p2pnet.net news:- It’s been quite a while since the RIAA last issued what until early last year were routine monthly reports on the number of subpoenas dished out to innocent men women and children it was claiming were massive distributors of online music.
Almost halfway through 2007, how many Americans have been found guilty of illegally distributing copyrighted music files online?
How many have appeared before a judge or a jury?
And how many have received subpoenas? The RIAA isn’t saying, and that’s hardly surprising. It would far rather people are left wondering, particularly when you consider that at a minimum, an estimated 60 million people regularly share music with each other in America alone, but only a few thousand are actually involved in copyright infringement lawsuits.
The last more or less accurate figure p2pnet had for RIAA victims was a little more than 19,000. But, “Assuming they’ve been keeping up the same pace of approximately 700 new suits each month, the RIAA should be closing in on 30,000 lawsuits by now,” senior EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) attorney Fred von Lohmann told p2pnet.
And this number would almost certainly include students despite the fact RIAA president Carty Sherman has openly admitted, “Frankly, we’ve found that students know that downloading from unauthorized P2P systems is illegal, but the chance of getting caught isn’t great enough to discourage them from doing it.”
These days, Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG are using their RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) to terrorise students across America. And working hand in glove with the labels are university administrators and legal departments.
Ohio University had the dubious distinction of being Number One on the RIAA hit list, but it recently caved in to Big 4 intimidation and now a local lawyer is taking the university to task for failing to properly support students.
“Students on campuses throughout the United States, many of whom are experiencing their first year as members of university communities, are facing unprecedented legal intimidation at the hands of the recording industry,” says Joe Hazelbaker (right).
“It appears that many institutions are simply prepared to wash their hands, refusing even to question the tactics of the industry, let alone providing meaningful legal assistance to their students,” he told p2pnet, going on:
In fact, one university has advised its students that they could use the recording industry’s attorney as ‘an information source’ despite the obvious conflicts. This is true despite the fact that the colleges and universities enabled the network on which the alleged activity took place, knew that the alleged activity could take place, failed to educate incoming students regarding the issues, and neglected to use available technology to prevent the alleged activity.
Many of the students targeted were required to live in university housing because they were deemed not mature enough to live off-campus (ie, many campuses require first and second year students to live on-campus). Yet, they are now apparently mature enough to be left on their own to defend themselves against the recording industry.
These colleges and universities should be ashamed.
“As you know, certain recording industry Association of America members (‘RIAA’) have filed suit against numerous, unidentified Ohio University students,” says Hazelbaker in a May 23 letter to Barbara Nalazek, associate director of the university’s office of legal affairs,
There are two complaints listing a total of twenty-four “John Does” with corresponding IP addresses related to university computers allegedly used by the “John Does” while living in university housing.
The undersigned represents certain “John Does” referenced and at least one of the complaints.
As you may not have known until now, this tactic filing a complaint against multiple “John Does” who allegedly engaged in separate and distinct acts has been held improper by a federal district court in Texas. The Texas court held that the practice violated the Federal Civil Rules of Procedure as the defendants could not be principally joined together in a suit that alleges separate and distinct conduct. The order is attached your convenience.
The RIAA has ignored the Texas court order, and that disregard continues in the two cases against Ohio University students. In addition, the RIAA has sought and received an Ex Parte subpoena issued to Ohio University to disclose the identity of the “John Does” associated with the identified IP addresses listed in the first Ohio case. This subpoena was, arguably, issued prematurely and without the required evidentiary showing. These issues had not yet been brought to the Federal District Court in the Southern District of Ohio’s attention.
Ohio University has an obligation to protect the privacy of its students and their records, which includes “directory” information (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act or FERPA). While FERPA contains an exception for a lawfully issued a subpoena, Ohio University is noticed that such exception should not be assumed to apply in this instance.
Even if the subpoenaed is colorablylawful, Ohio University has a greater responsibility to its students, both as custodian of student private information and as the leader of the university community, which includes its role as the enabler of the computer network at issue to do more than unquestioningly respond to the subpoenaed. this alternative can be lawfully pursued without disobeying the subpoenaed. Ohio University should not simply act as an opened conduit to the special-interest RIAA, but should exhaust all reasonable options to prevent potentially improper release of private student information.
Ohio University is urged to honour the letter and spirit of its student confidentiality obligations by taking all appropriate measures to determine the propriety of RIAA actions before compromising confidential information. Ohio University will, ultimately, be responsible should confidential information be prematurely and/or improperly disclosed.
What’s it all about?
The Big 4 claim files shared equal sales lost, an an assertion they’ve never come anywhere near to proving, which isn’t to say they haven’t tried.
However, they’re really scraping the barrel and their most recent effort, quoted in Afterdawn, has something called the Luigi Einaudi Foundation stating, “file sharing of music and movies cuts into consumers’ purchasing of physical products like CDs and DVDs. The research shows that nearly a third of file-sharers (30%) have cut back on the amount of physical music products they buy.”
Ergo, file sharing is responsible. That is, of course, complete and utter nonsense, but it’s parroted by many, if not most, sectors of the mainstream print and electronic media as fact.
On the other side of the coin, however, there are plenty of authoritative academic and independent studies which say the opposite. For example, “Downloads have an effect on sales that is statistically indistinguishable from zero,” report Felix Oberholzer, from Harvard University Business School, and Koleman Strumpf, from University of Kansas, School of Business, in their The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales: An Empirical Analysis.
Meanwhile, it’s really simple: instead of suing students, the Big 4 should be wooing them. Because, as the labels and their RIAA keep on pointing out, students are the customers of the future.
Accusing them of being thieves and criminals, harassing them while they’re trying to study, and making their lives a misery, isn’t the way to go and only arrant fools would persist in this kind of policy.
‘I am a proud alumnus’
Finally, one of the RIAA’s most prolific mouthpieces is Jonathan Lamy.
He’s a 1995 OU E.W. Scripps School of Journalism graduate who hypocritically says he’s “torn” by the attention OU is getting because of the RIAA’s anti-piracy efforts, according to the OU student newspaper, The Post.
“I am a proud alumnus and it has been painful to see my alma mater be in the national spotlight that it is and has been,” a story has him saying, unable to resist asserting a little corporate music propaganda.
“There are far too many students (at Ohio University) that are getting their music illegally,” he says, and, “By blocking illegal peer-to-peer file-sharing on its network, educating students who receive the letters and allowing legal file sharing, Lamy said the university ‘has really stepped up’.”
“Stepped in it” might be more accurate.
Jon Newton – p2pnet
massive distributor – EFF in RIAA vs Amurao fray, April 10, 2007
openly admitted – RIAA Ohio student attacks, March 9, 2007
RIAA hit list – Ohio U No 1 on RIAA p2p chart, February 23, 2007
terrorise students – Cartels boost attack on US schools, March 30, 2007
Afterdawn – Study shows P2P directly affects Italian music sales, May 24, 2007
For example – File sharing: zero effect on downloads, February 12, 2007
The Post – Attorney says OU should fight RIAA, May 25, 2007
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Tired of being treated like a criminal? They depend on you, not the other way around. Don’t buy their ‘product’. Do bug your local politicians. Use emails, snail-mail, phone calls, faxes, IM, stop them in the street, blog. And if you’re into organizing, organize petitions, organize demonstrations and then turn up on your local political rep’s doorstep, making sure you’ve contacted your local tv/radio station/newspaper in advance. Don’t just complain. Do something!