Recording Industry Association targets Ohio University data network users in pre-lawsuit campaign
ATHENS, Ohio (March 2, 2007) -- In an effort to stop music pirating, the Recording Industry Association of America has taken aggressive steps to stop alleged offenders on campuses, including Ohio University. The organization has developed a new prelawsuit strategy, which will give suspected offenders the chance to settle before they are sued. The campaign targets 50 suspected offenders at Ohio University.
On Thursday, March 1, Ohio University's Office of Legal Affairs received 50 computer IP addresses and prelitigation letters from RIAA attorneys. The association is asking Ohio University to link individuals to the addresses (something RIAA cannot discern on its own) and then forward the RIAA's letter to those individuals, who allegedly have illegally uploaded or downloaded copyrighted recordings from their computers.
Out of concern for those accused, Ohio University staff and student representatives have agreed that the university will comply with the RIAA's request. By doing so, individuals involved will have the opportunity to settle the claim early at a "significantly reduced" rate before it becomes an official lawsuit in federal court, according to the RIAA's correspondence. Ohio University will not turn names over to the RIAA unless legally ordered to do so.
If the university does not distribute the letters, RIAA says it will file what is known as a "John Doe" lawsuit against the as-yet unidentified individuals. It would then obtain a court order to Ohio University to identify names, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and Media Access Control addresses of the alleged offenders. Offenders could be subject to the full costs of a formal lawsuit. Ohio University would be required legally to comply. RIAA says the same court-order process will apply to individuals who receive RIAA letters but do not respond before RIAA's deadline.
"We feel it is in the best interest of the accused individuals to provide them early with the most options," Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Richard Carpinelli said.
The university's information technology staff began Thursday determining which individuals are associated with the IP addresses at a specified time. Because IP addresses are dynamic -- that is, they constantly change -- IT experts must search through historic logs to pinpoint which computer jack or wireless connection each IP address matches. When that step is complete, university officials will forward the letters. RIAA is offering these people until March 20 to settle.
"Because we believe members of the Ohio University community who receive letters will have questions, we will work as a team to schedule an information session midweek," Carpinelli said. "We can't tell students what to do, but we can clarify information," he says, adding that individuals receiving letters will be notified about session dates and times.
The prelitigation settlement letters direct recipients to a phone number or Web site (www.p2plawsuits.com) to initiate settlement.
This week, RIAA identified 13 universities across the nation to target for this copyright infringement prelawsuit campaign. The association has retained the Denver, Colo., law firm Holme, Roberts & Owen to be its agent in this matter.
The university will distribute notifications early next week.
For support and information on RIAA prelitigation, students may contact Center for Student Legal Services at 740-594-8093. Students also may e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for clarification about the letters.
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Media Contact: Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Richard Carpinelli, 740-593-2580 or email@example.com