ATHENS, Ohio (Feb. 28, 2007) -- Last evening, the Recording Industry Association of America issued a notice to Ohio University indicating that it will announce today its intention to sue 50 users on the university's network. The association claims that Ohio University students have used peer-to-peer software to copy and distribute a large number of RIAA-member copyrighted works without authorization.
RIAA has identified 50 IP addresses involved in the alleged downloading. It will request that the university identify users associated with the addresses and issue to them a copy of the RIAA lawsuit letter. Alleged violators will be offered a limited time frame for settling at a discounted rate.
RIAA stated that it plans to take action against downloaders at 12 other schools.
The university does not condone illegal file sharing and has firm policies and sanctions regarding use of computing resources. The university works to inform students of those policies and the law through an education program at orientation and regular follow-up communications.
Last week, Vice President of Student Affairs Kent Smith issued a reminder to students that the university will enforce its policy against illegal downloading.
RIAA's tactic of trying to make universities its agent to deliver suit notices is a new step for the organization. In the past, it has filed lawsuits first against alleged campus downloaders whose identities are unknown, then it sought subpoenas to universities to reveal the names of alleged offenders.
Ohio University's attorneys will review the RIAA's new request and determine the most appropriate response under the law and university policies.
There are two key legal issues the university will take into consideration in the matter. The first is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which protects the privacy of student records; the second is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which requires that when a university receives proper notice of illegal file sharing activity on its network, it must take steps in accordance with its policies to put an end to the activity.
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