RIAA Moves Against More Colleges

The Recording Industry Association of America last week targeted students at 22 American universities, sending out 403 of its "pre-litigation settlement letters," according to the group, which represents major record labels. As in the past, the letters were not sent directly to those accused of copyright infringement, but to administrators, who were then expected to "forward the letter to the appropriate network user."

In the latest wave of copyright infringement letters--the eight such wave by the RIAA's reckoning--the RIAA sent letters to 22 campuses at the following universities/university systems: Arizona State University; Carnegie Mellon University; Cornell University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Michigan State University; North Dakota State University; Purdue University; University of California; University of Connecticut; University of Maryland; University of Massachusetts; University of Nebraska; University of Pennsylvania; University of Pittsburgh; and University of Wisconsin.

In a prepared statement, the RIAA said that the move comes as "federal lawmakers continue to examine the state of copyright theft on college campuses nationwide." However, support for the RIAA's quasi-legal moves against education institutions may be waning in Congress. In July, an amendment to the Higher Education Act that would have held universities accountable for illegal file sharing on their networks was removed from the act prior to its passage. It had been opposed by education technology organizations, including Educause.

In addition, according to a recent report in The Motley Fool, more defendants are fighting back against the RIAA, "with great success," forcing the RIAA members to fight against paying defendants' legal fees. And, according to a recent report in Ars Technica, one former RIAA defendant is now seeking class action status for a lawsuit against the RIAA for malicious prosecution. (See links below.)

The RIAA also last week filed copyright infringement suits against 24 university network users "who have ignored settlement opportunities." The lawsuits were filed against "students" from Columbia University, Cornell University, Florida International University, Ithaca College, Kent State University, Marshall University, Morehead State University, North Carolina State University, North Dakota State University, Ohio University, Syracuse University, University of California, University of Maryland, University of Massachusetts, and University of South Florida.  It is not clear whether those users were aware of the "settlement opportunities" or have been made aware of the lawsuits being filed against them.

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About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director, education for 1105 Media's Public Sector Media Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal. A 22-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).


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