Recording Industry Targets UC Downloaders
Mar. 22 - KGO (KGO) -- Despite efforts by the music industry, it says it is losing $2 billion dollars a year to file sharing pirates and many of them are college students doing it through servers provided by universities. Now, the record companies are clamping down on them, as well. It puts U.C. Berkeley, among others, in a tough position of trying to balance privacy while upholding the law.
To hear the Recording Industry of Association of America tell it, a college student could be a thief if they illegally shared digital music and did not pay for it.
Melissa Williams, U.C. Berkeley Student: "Well I think anyone with an iPod had done a little illegal downloading."
It's another wave of threatened litigation on 23 college campuses including U.C. Berkeley. The recording industry sent at least 19 letters to the university, which provides internet access to some 9,000 students. In those letters, the RIAA offered suspected downloaders an opportunity to settle before pursuing further legal action.
Evan Sampson, U.C. Berkeley Student: "It's scary, I mean, it's hard because everyone's doing it, you know?"
The wrinkle in this story is that the music industry does not have the names of these supposed violators -- just their computer address numbers. The recording industry has contacted universities and asked the universities to contact the students. That puts the universities in an uncomfortable position.
Jennifer Ward, U.C. Spokesperson: "We're trying to be good internet providers by passing along the information."
It was 2003 when the music industry first cracked downloaders.
Cary Sherman, Recording Industry Association of America, September, 2003: "We want people to stop engaging in the theft of music so other can go on making it."
RIAA President Cary Sherman said today "This is not our preferred course, but we hope that students will understand the consequences of stealing music."
This did not go over well at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, which defends the rights of cyberspace users.
Corynne McSherry, Electronic Frontier Foundation: "This is like bullying your customers instead of satisfying your customers so they can continue to be good customers."
One solution for users is to pay a monthly blanket licensing fee in return for unlimited downloads -- innovation, rather than litigation.
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