Recording Industry Sues Students for Piracy; Follows Plea to University Presidents for Crackdown
Byline: William Glanz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The recording industry filed lawsuits yesterday against four college students to combat music piracy on campuses.
It is the first time the industry has targeted illegal file sharing on college campuses, and one university bristled at the legal action.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) filed suit against students at Princeton University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Michigan Technological University. Each student operated "Napsterlike systems" on campus computer networks, according to complaints filed in U.S. District Court in three states.
At least two of the schools have shut down the file-sharing networks. The students made music files available to people on campuswide computer networks, called local area networks, that are accessible to people only on campus.
"We hope these suits serve as a stiff deterrent to anyone who is operating or considering setting up a similar system," RIAA President Cary Sherman said.
Rensselaer students Aaron Sherman and Jesse Jordan, Michigan Technological student Joseph Nievelt, and Princeton student Daniel Peng were sued yesterday. The recording industry said the students violated copyright laws and shared a combined 2.1 million music files on four Web sites.
The association is seeking damages of $150,000 for each song file the defendants have on their Web site, according to the lawsuits, but RIAA officials said they are open to settlement discussions.
The music and movie industries urged college officials last year to crack down on campus pirates. In letters mailed Oct. 3 to 2,300 university presidents, the heads of the recording industry and the Motion Picture Association of America warned that students were using college computer networks to violate federal copyright-protection laws.
The recording industry joined forces last year with colleges and universities by forming the Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities.
Graham Spanier, president of Pennsylvania State University and co-chairman of the joint committee, said colleges are trying to solve the piracy problem. …