p2pnet news view | RIAA News:- Duke University has joined the growing list of schools balking at following Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony BMG’s RIAA sue ‘em all instructions.
Put up or shut up, Duke University for VP for student affairs Larry Moneta (right) has told Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony BMG’s RIAA, in effect.
And the same goes for Hollywood’s MPAA.
Duke will now require agencies like the aforementioned entertainment cartel enforcement organisations, “to provide evidence of copyright infringement before forwarding pre-litigation notices to students,” says the school’s Duke Chronicle.
“The University has stepped up its support for students with the new policy, scheduled to go into effect before the end of the semester,” says the story, continuing:
“In the past, the University did not provide student information to the RIAA without a subpoena, but forwarded all pre-litigation notices to students without evaluating the validity of the infringement claims.”
But at least one student isn’t impressed, saying the new P2P policy is as, “frustrating than having to pay thousands of dollars in fines” in the first place.
“So basically what they’re saying now is that before this they didn’t have proof?” - the unnamed student is quoted as saying. “They allowed for ‘not good proof’ to be shown beforehand, or just not shown at all?” he said.
“So now Duke is requiring evidence — so what? It’s still not going to change anything.”
And, “While it is good news that a university is requiring the RIAA to put up or shut up, the forwarding — or not forwarding — of letters is pretty insignificant,” says Recording Industry vs The People’s Ray Beckerman.
“What I want to know is: When the RIAA comes knocking with its Star Chamber, ex parte, ‘John Doe’ litigation to get the students’ identities, is the University going to go to bat for the students and fight the litigation on the ground that it’s based on zero evidence, and on the ground that the students weren’t given prior notice and an opportunity to be heard?”
‘The RIAA polices peer-to-peer networks’
Meanwhile, “What we’re saying is that in order for us to pass on a settlement letter to a student, we’re going to start requiring evidence that someone actually downloaded from that student,” Moneta says. “If the RIAA can’t prove that actual illegal behavior occurred, then we’re not going to comply.”
Individuals cited for copyright infringement by the RIAA, “are known only by an IP address that has been flagged for uploading one or more illegal files,” says the Duke Chronicle, continuing:
“The RIAA polices peer-to-peer networks and collects evidence of infringement against certain IP addresses, forwarding infringement letters to universities that then follow up with the individuals.
“In the past year, the RIAA has sent more than 1,000 infringement notices to Duke students, including more than 40 pre-litigation notices, 21 settlement offers and eight subpoenas. Over the past three months, the RIAA has filed three civil lawsuits against Duke students for sharing copyrighted material over P2P networks like Limewire and Kazaa.”
Shawn, a junior whose name has been changed to protect his identity, settled with the RIAA for $3,000 but said the playing field would have been more level if he had had access to a lawyer when he received a pre-litigation notice from the University.
“Nothing is going to be solved until Duke gets a student lawyer to contest this in a joint case,” he said. “When you get the e-mail from the RIAA, you have no idea what to do, or who to go to. Most kids can’t afford a lawyer, but if one lawyer is at Duke to file a joint case they could probably get [the RIAA] to drop it.”
Without a University policy requiring the RIAA to supply evidence of alleged illegal activity, students may have been at risk for erroneous claims of infringement. Many experts have disputed the soundness of the RIAA’s methods of detecting copyright infringement, said Owen Astrachan, professor of the practice of computer science and co-director of undergraduate studies for the department.
The RIAA’s current policing software can generate false positives that wrongly implicate users for illegal downloads, he explained, the story adds.