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RIAA changes strategy, stopping lawsuits against students

Lauren Hennen

Issue date: 1/30/09 Section: News
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The RIAA has decided to stop targeting college students for illegal music-sharing, but chief information security officer Thomas Siu warns that students still must comply with Case's Acceptable Use Policy.
Media Credit: Denton Zhou
The RIAA has decided to stop targeting college students for illegal music-sharing, but chief information security officer Thomas Siu warns that students still must comply with Case's Acceptable Use Policy.

This past December, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced that it will stop filing lawsuits for the illegal downloading of music. Such a sudden change in policy means that college students, previously specific targets of litigation by the group, will no longer be subject to this particular tactic.

While the RIAA plans to veer away from mass lawsuits, it will continue to monitor Internet traffic in search of illegal sharing. However, instead of serving individuals with lawsuits, the RIAA says that it will work in conjunction with Internet service providers (ISPs) to combat illegal downloading. The RIAA will ask ISPs to issue warnings to those who continue to illegally download music. If warnings are not enough of a deterrent, ISPs may suspend the individual's Internet account.

Thomas Siu, the chief information security officer at Case Western Reserve University, said that the RIAA's recent announcement means that the "looming threat of no-win lawsuits has been lifted."

"[The RIAA] were suing individual students because they thought it was a large part of the problem, but in reality, students only made up 5 percent of the illegal downloading that was going on," Siu said. Initially, Siu explained, the RIAA produced estimates claiming that students were responsible for around 15 percent of all illegal downloading.

"They were going after the Average Joe and creating a black hole in the market," Siu said of the RIAA's former approach to combating illegal downloading. If a lawsuit were filed against a student, that person would "just have to pay up."

"If you went to court, you would lose," he said.

Though the RIAA is moving away from mass lawsuits, Siu said that the university's approach to illegal sharing will remain unchanged.

"When you register a computer on our network, you agree to the Acceptable Use Policy," he said, "If you're trading copyrighted material, then we need to follow the law."
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In This Issue

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