p2pnet news | RIAA news:- The pleasure of enjoying music has become seriously tainted by the venality of EMI (Britain), Vivendi Universal (France), Sony BMG (Japan and Germany) and Warner Music (US), the members of the Big 4 organised music cartel who together control the corporate music industry.
Aided by so-called trade organisations such as their RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), which is currently terrorising music lovers in the US, they’ve succeeded in using their financial clout and elements of the mainstream media to escalate copyright infringement, originally a purely civil matter, to the level of major crime.
Until fairly recently, their practice was to have about 750 subpoenas aimed every month not only at adults they were accusing of being massive online distributors of copyrighted music, but also very young children.
The Big 4 imply these subpoenas equal successful prosecutions. However, a subpoena is merely an instruction to, “appear at a certain time and place to give testimony upon a certain matter,” as the Wikipedia sums it up.
It is not a court case. It is not a lawsuit. It is not a prosecution, successful or otherwise. It is not a suggestion that someone has been, or will be, found guilty of something.
This particular aspect of the campaign, Part I, was brought to a halt in February, 2006, after around 20,000 people had been subpoenaed, and this year Part II was implemented, following the same basic pattern.
But this time, American students in universities across America are the targets with school staffs used as corporate copyright enforcement cops.
Pay up. Or else …..
Under the new scheme, the RIAA sends out what it calls ‘pre-litigation’ settlement letters. Actually, they’re self-incrimination documents and they’re designed to extort preset amounts of around $3,000 from students with the empty promise that by paying up, they’ll remove the threat of being hauled into court on charges of copyright infringement.
In reality, all the students are doing is providing the RIAA with personal and private information which can conceivably be used against them at some point in the future when the Big 4 agency ramps up to a new level of intimidation.
In the sixth wave of blackmail, the RIAA is targetting 23 universities nationwide with 408 ‘settlement’ letters.
“Since launching its deterrence program in February 2007, the RIAA has sent approximately 2,423 pre-litigation settlement letters to universities nationwide,” it boasts without shame. “The letters are in addition to the lawsuits that the RIAA continues to file on a rolling basis against those engaging in music theft via commercial Internet accounts.”
Singled out for special attention this time around are:
State University of New York at Morrisville, Georgia Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, University of Central Arkansas, University of Delaware, Northern Michigan University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, George Washington University, Ohio State University, New Mexico State University, Eckerd College, University of Minnesota, California State University – Monterey Bay, University of Kansas, University of Missouri – Rolla, University of San Francisco, Case Western Reserve University, Northern Arizona University, San Francisco State University, University of Tulsa, Franklin and Marshall College, Western Kentucky University, and Santa Clara University.
Colleges and universities should be ashamed
“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 Ohio lawyer Joe Hazelbaker.
“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.
The number of students victimised in this way is infinitesimal compared to the millions of people who routinely share music with each other online.
It’s been estimated that approximately sixty one million people in America alone regularly share with each other online.
The RIAA says it’s only managed to send out 2,423 threat letters to students, and yet the mainstream media report this as though significant numbers of people whom they accuse of being illegal file sharers have been identified.
That a subpoena has been sent out doesn’t mean the person on the receiving end will act on it and indeed, increasing numbers of academics in the US are protesting as the labels continue to seriously disrupt classes and lessons by firing these documents at students, and by coercing school staffs into passing on the extortionate ‘settlement’ letters to those whom they’re supposed to be teaching, not intimidating.
Harvard and other universities to which the RIAA sent pre-litigation notices, “ought to take strong, direct action” and “tell the RIAA to take a hike,” believe Charles Nesson, William F. Weld professor of law, Harvard Law School, and founder and faculty co-director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society; and John Palfrey, clinical professor of law and executive director, the Berkman Center.
They go on:
This Spring, 1,200 pre-litigation letters arrived unannounced at universities across the country. The RIAA promises more will follow. These letters tell the university which students the RIAA plans on suing, identifying the students only by their IP addresses, the ‘license plates’ of Internet connections. Because the RIAA does not know the names behind the IP addresses, the letters ask the universities to deliver the notices to the proper students, rather than relying upon the ordinary legal mechanisms.
Universities should have no part in this extraordinary process.
And on IP addresses, “by itself an IP number on a packet has only suggestive value and is not reliable evidence at all,” says University of Chicago professor Mike O’Donnell.
Jon Newton – p2pnet
self-incrimination documents – RIAA college settlement plan, February 28, 2007
meaningful legal assistance – Ohio U failing students in RIAA attacks,May 215, 2007
RIAA – 23 New Schools to Receive Latest Round of RIAA Pre-Lawsuit Letters, July 18, 2007
take a hike – Take a hike, RIAA: US universities, July 11, 2007
not reliable evidence – IP addresses and identities, July 16, 2007
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