RIAA targets 15 students
February 8, 2008
__College refuses to release names in illegal music downloading lawsuits__
p. Approximately 15 students at the College are facing possible federal lawsuits filed by a firm representing the Recording Industry Association of America regarding the illegal distribution of music files through the College’s network.
p. One of the students, who requested to remain anonymous, provided details on the situation.
p. “I got an e-mail from [Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs] Ginger Ambler on Tuesday, Jan. 29, that said I had a letter in the Campus Center that I needed to pick up,” he said. “I knew it was bad.”
p. Enclosed in the envelope was a letter from Ambler, currently serving in place of Vice President for Student Affairs Sam Sadler, who is recovering from surgery. Her letter informed the student that he had received one of many letters “sent to students at universities nationwide as part of what appears to be a concerted effort to address copyright violation.”
p. Ambler’s letter notified the student that the RIAA had tracked his illegal distribution through his Internet Protocol, or IP, address. Though his name was not released to the RIAA, the law firm representing the RIAA made clear their intent to subpoena the College for personal information.
p. The envelope also contained a second letter from the law firm representing the RIAA and a “number of large record companies.” In this letter, dated Jan. 9, 2007, the student was accused of illegally distributing 77 songs through LimeWire, a file-sharing website. He was informed that he could either settle for $3,000 or face a lawsuit, in which case the RIAA would seek a minimum of $750 per song.
p. Toward the end of the letter, in bold and capital letters, was the statement: “If you do not resolve our claims against you within twenty (20) calendar days from the date of this letter, then we will file suit against you in federal court.” The letter ended with advice to seek legal counsel.
p. “The really shitty part is that the letter was dated the [Jan.] 9, and I got it on [Jan.] 29,” the student said. “So basically I was given four hours to put a credit card on a website and pay $3,000. I didn’t feel I was able to do that given I didn’t have the time to consult a lawyer.”
p. He expressed concern that, even by settling with the RIAA, he may still face the expense of lawsuits filed independently by other label companies.
p. The student has yet to hear anything more from the law firm representing the RIAA. He has spoken to Student Legal Services and is currently waiting to hear back from a law professor who assisted students in a similar situation last year.
p. “At this point, I guess I’m facing a lawsuit,” the student explained. “Hopefully, I can find a lawyer who is versed in such a new phenomenon and something as specific as copyright laws.”
p. As of yet, the College has not sought to bring any disciplinary action in this case.