Oct 17, 2019

FS gets 2 notices on music piracy

The Recording Industry Association of America has recently stepped up its campaign to stop illegal downloading of music. Its primary targets — college students.

In fact, the RIAA has issued two violation notices to Fresno State since the recording industry enacted a new policy that more aggressively tracks violators and works more closely with college administrators in doing so.

Information Technology Services director Richard Boes said no Fresno State students have been issued subpoenas or otherwise been held liable for downloading illegal music files, but that two “courtesy notifications” have been received from the RIAA regarding the downloading of illegal content on campus computers.

Boes said the notifications asked the university to forward them to users of the computers in question. He said information regarding the two cases was given to the Chancellor’s office. It responded by advising Fresno State to pass on any relevant information to the RIAA if the users responsible can be positively identified.

“No further actions have been taken,” Boes said of the two cases.

The RIAA, which has brought its complaints on illegal downloading of copyrighted material to public attention by suing violators in the past, is now shifting its focus more toward college students, who are widely seen as the biggest problem.

In addition, the RIAA is pursing a new tactic in the form of a “pre-lawsuit,” in which violators can pay a fine and thereby avoid a lawsuit. This new policy was explained in more detail in The Collegian’s March 9th issue.

California State University spokesperson Paul Browning said the CSU system’s policy is to protect the creators of intellectual property and enforce copyright laws.

As far as the Chancellor’s office is concerned, Browning said, “They make sure each university ensures an acceptable use of information technology.” But he said the specific methods universities use to identify student violators and enforce the law are largely up to them.

Fresno State Dean of Student Affairs Paul Oliaro said the university’s goal is to “be cooperative where copyright laws are violated while protecting the rights of individual students.” He said that a computer’s IP address can’t necessarily be linked to a student, and that the university would consult with its attorney before accommodating a subpoena from the RIAA.

“How the university would respond to a subpoena would depend on what information was requested and what information was available,” Oliaro said.

Oliaro also said the Chancellor’s office aims to get users of the notified computers to contact the RIAA themselves, in order to settle the dispute privately without a protracted legal battle.

In the meantime, university officials emphasized the importance of complying with the law in order to avoid costly legal consequences.

“They’re taking it to another level,” Oliaro said of the RIAA. “Anyone doing this [illegal downloading] does so at their own risk.”

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