Archive for Thursday, April 29, 2004

Piracy net snares 2 from KU

Recording industry lawsuits allege illegal music downloads by students

April 29, 2004


Two Kansas University students -- one with an affinity for rock, the other a fan of country and '80s music -- are among the latest targets of lawsuits filed by the Recording Industry Association of America.

The students, who are identified only as "Doe 1" and "Doe 2" and by their computer IP addresses, are among the 477 new defendants in the RIAA's effort to crack down on downloaders of illegal music.

Officials said they thought this was the first time KU students had been included in the RIAA lawsuits, which began last summer. Dozens of college students in 11 states were included in the latest round of lawsuits Wednesday.

In filing the lawsuits, association president Cary Sherman praised efforts by colleges and universities to use technology and school policies to crack down on music piracy on their computer networks. But he said the most egregious offenders on campus deserved to be sued.

"There is also a complementary need for enforcement by copyright owners against the serious offenders to remind people that this activity is illegal," he said.

The latest filings bring the number of lawsuits filed by the recording industry to 2,454 since last summer. None of the cases has gone to trial, and 437 people so far have agreed to pay financial penalties of about $3,000 as settlements.

The RIAA said its lawyers planned to work through the courts to request subpoenas against the universities and some commercial Internet providers to learn the defendants' names.

Todd Cohen, a KU spokesman, said the university received an e-mail from RIAA on Tuesday warning that some action would be taken against students for copyright infringement. He said KU would wait until receiving formal notice before deciding how to proceed on identifying the students.

"That decision won't be made until we read the documentation," he said.

One of the students, whose downloads were apparently made Jan. 26, had music that included country artists the Dixie Chicks, Alabama and Clint Black, and soft rockers Journey and Phil Collins.

The other student preferred rock, with downloads such as Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins. Those downloads apparently were made Dec. 15.

In addition, lawsuits were filed against five others in Kansas. No identifying information was included in those suits.

Despite the well-publicized lawsuits of the past year, several KU students said Wednesday that illegal music downloading was still alive and well on campus.

"I don't think the lawsuits will stop anyone from downloading," said Clarissa Owen, a sophomore from Albuquerque, N.M. "It's just like drinking and driving. Nobody thinks it will happen to them."

Darren Reed, a sophomore from Garden City, said he doubted anyone would be deterred by Wednesday's lawsuits.

"There are 25,000 or 26,000 students here," he said, "and if you get a couple of them, it's comparable to getting a couple of underage freshmen for underage drinking."

KU does warn students about downloading copyrighted materials, including music and movies, said Allison Lopez, a spokeswoman for KU Information Services.

But, she said, KU only responds to complaints from outside groups and gives students a chance to delete the materials before punishing them.

"We're a state institution, and we're in the business of following the law," she said. "But we don't look at what (students) are looking at. We don't dog students."

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