On Superbowl Sunday, former targets of lawsuits by the Recording Industry Association of America helped advertise a new promotion by Pepsi granting free song downloads to soda drinkers. Recently, the RIAA has continued to sue for copyright violations in its latest effort to decrease illegal music sharing.
The RIAA, a trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry, sued 532 computer users Jan. 21. It is not known if any Yale students, faculty or staff are among those being sued.
The association was forced to sue the users through a “John Doe” process, identifying users only by their Internet Protocol addresses, after a federal appeals court ruled that the subpoena process the RIAA had previously employed could not be used in cases involving peer-to-peer networks, a RIAA press release said. Now that the lawsuits have been filed, the RIAA can subpoena Internet service providers to provide those identities.
“Continuing this education and enforcement campaign is critical to fostering an environment where both legal online music services and traditional retail outlets can flourish,” RIAA President Cary Sherman said in the press release. “Virtually every week, we see evidence that the music community’s anti-piracy program is having its intended effect. Awareness and legal downloads are up, while many analysts are finding that file sharing is down.”
A partial list of 199 sued IP addresses — those who were sued in Washington, D.C. — is posted online at the Web site of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that seeks to educate the public about civil liberties issues related to technology.
University Information Security Officer Morrow Long said no University IP addresses were in this group. But more than 300 other users were sued in New York and those IP addresses are not posted online.
Long said he did not know whether any Yale students were among the IP addresses in this second group.
“I would hope Yale people are not in this group, but there are probably university students that are,” Long said.
Long said one of ITS’s concerns was whether Yale-owned computers, such as those in University offices, were used for illegal downloads, since that might make it possible for the University itself to be sued.
In regard to student offenders, he said if Information Technology Services receives a request from the RIAA to identify a student by his or her IP address, it will pass the request to the Yale General Counsel’s Office.
University General Counsel Dorothy Robinson could not be reached for comment Sunday night.
Long said music companies handle most Yale-related problems by notifying the University of the copyright violation, after which he said officials contact the student about the problem. If the University receives a second warning about a student, Long said, officials require that student to get a form signed by his or her residential college dean. Until the paper is signed, Long said, that student’s internet access is cut off. Long said only three or four students have received two notices so far.
He said Yale uses a three-pronged approach to work against music sharing — education, legal downloading though Cflix, and bandwidth management, in which the University limits the speed of the Internet connection to services such as Kazaa.