ATHENS, Ohio (March 8, 2007) -- Wednesday afternoon, Ohio University students affected by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)'s prelitigation strike against illegal music downloading attended the first of two information sessions hosted by university officials. A second session is scheduled for tonight.
A panel of Ohio University staff familiar with the issue answered students' questions: Rich Carpinelli, associate vice president for student affairs; Shawn Ostermann, interim chief information officer; Barb Nalazek, associate director of legal affairs; and Melissa Luna, staff attorney with the Center for Student Legal Services. About 20 of 90 students involved in the RIAA prelitigation letter campaign attended the meeting.
Afterward, Carpinelli said that last time he checked, Ohio University was the only one of the 13 targeted universities to offer students information sessions. "The reason for that is because we make students our top priority."
During the meeting, students questioned why the university is forwarding the prelitigation letters from the RIAA to students, said Carpinelli. He explained that if the university did not, the RIAA would file what is known as a "John Doe" lawsuit against the as-yet-unidentified individuals. It would then obtain a court order to force Ohio University to identify alleged offenders.
Carpinelli reiterated that the university has not turned over any student's name to the RIAA.
"We have not provided student information to the RIAA and won't do so unless and until we are ordered to do so through a court," he said.
Forwarding the letters allows students the chance to decide how they want to deal with the threat of a lawsuit.
"We want to give our students every option to settle the matter that's being brought against them," he said.
Many students complained about the RIAA's actions coming so close to the end of the quarter. Carpinelli said that the university's legal affairs department has contacted RIAA numerous times to ask for an extension, but the association has yet to respond. Carpinelli urged students to remain focused on their school work.
"Don't let this derail them from what they are here to do and that is finish out the quarter successfully and do well with their finals," he said.
One parent attended last night's session. Carpinelli also said he has spoken with many parents by phone and that the university is providing as much information as possible to students and parents so they can resolve the situation. He also directed students to the student home page on Ohio University's Web site for continued updates on the situation and a list of frequently asked questions.
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Media Contact: Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Richard Carpinelli, 740-593-2580 or firstname.lastname@example.org