Students may pay for free music

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April 13, 2007

12:15 PM

p. The College forwarded 12 pre-litigation letters from the Recording Industry of America to students who allegedly downloaded music illegally. The letters offer the students a chance to settle copyright infringement claims at a reduced rate or face lawsuits from the association.

p. The RIAA tracked students based on their IP addresses and sent 413 letters to 21 universities, requesting that the universities forward the letters to the students. The RIAA does not know the identity of the students, and the College currently will not release that information but may eventually be legally obligated to do so.

p. “The College would not release such personal information about students without their consent,” Vice President for Student Affairs Sam Sadler wrote yesterday in an e-mail to students. “We were informed that this request was being made of us in advance of a possible subpoena for the information. Were a subpoena issued, we might well be required to provide the identifying information.”

p. According to a press release from the RIAA, the association is trying to deter illegal downloading on college campuses. The press release says that a 2006 survey by the Student Monitor found that more than half of college students obtain music and movies illegally.

p. “Without question, this new enforcement initiative has invigorated a meaningful conversation on college campuses about music theft, its consequences and the numerous ways to enjoy legal music,” Steven Marks, general counsel and executive vice president of the RIAA, said in the press release. “The question we ask of students is this: with high-quality legal music options available for free or deeply discounted, why take the twin risks of exposing your computer to viruses or spyware by downloading from an illegal site or exposing yourself to a costly lawsuit?”

p. The letters mark the third wave of bulk notifications to universities about student copyright infringement. According to The Daily Pennsylvanian — the student newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania, which received 17 pre-litigation letters Wednesday — the RIAA has sent over 1,200 letters total to universities and plans to send 400 per month, in addition to lawsuits filed on a rolling basis.

p. The College was the only Virginia school to receive letters. Ohio University topped the list, receiving 50 letters.

p. “Obviously the recording industry is stepping up enforcement of its copyrights,” Sadler said in his e-mail.

p. “If you have doubts about whether it would be appropriate to download from the internet music or other materials, my strong suggestion would be, don’t.”

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