RIAA ups student P2P lawsuits, using e-mail to demand settlements

Students who download music from file sharing services may need to start taking a closer look at their e-mail, including what appears to be spam or scams, as going by this AP report, the RIAA is now suing students and sending out e-mails asking students to settle or face legal action.  A student, Sarah Barg at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, received such an e-mail and assumed it was a scam, until she called the student legal services to find out she was in real trouble.  This e-mail from the RIAA demanded her to pay $3,000 for the 381 songs she downloaded using Ares from her dorm.  The music consisted of 1980’s ballads and some Spice Girls music, showing that the music industry is not just after those who download or distribute the latest hits or albums. 

She was just one of 61 students at that University who received these letters by e-mail, with 32 more to come.  Over 60 college campuses were targeted according to an RIAA spokeswoman and so far at least 500 university students in the US have paid up.  By suing students, it is quite clear that students are going to have little other choice than to settle the hefty fee, since very few, if any, can afford to fight.  Even still, some students will have to take up an extra job just to pay off the settlement. 

Johnson, who also got an e-mail back in February from the RIAA, was accused of downloading 100 songs via Limewire using the University network.  He had to pay the settlement from his college fund and will need to work three jobs during the summer just to pay it off.  He compared it to doing 5 MPH over the speed limit, since it is not like he downloaded a huge number of songs, never mind tried making money out of them. 

According to the RIAA spokeswoman, money collected from the settlements is reinvested into educational programs to educate students about the consequences of sharing music.  Barg considered RIAA’s current approach as bullying and ridiculous.  While she knows she done wrong, students don’t realise the danger of file sharing until they get caught, since no e-mail has been sent out to students warning about the RIAA’s action and that threats alone are not going to solve the problem.  

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From what I can see, even if one gets a speeding ticket, one is far more likely to beat the speeding fine than an RIAA lawsuit in court.  The sad part is, by the music industry asking for such a ridiculous amount for settlements and forcing people to pay up, this comparison effectively shows that the music industry considers the tackling of music piracy as far more important than protecting people’s lives on the road. 

Thanks to RTV71 for letting us know about this news.

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