University of Nebraska Will Bill RIAA $11 For Each Threatening Letter Received

Unlike the University of Wisconsin, which refuses to rat out its students to the RIAA, the University of Nebraska is playing along with the recording industry’s efforts to sue people for piracy. But if the RIAA wants Nebraska’s help, they’ll need to pay up.

The university has estimated that each complaint – basically a warning that a computer on the UNL campus is being used to pirate music – costs about $11 to process, Weir said. So the university wants to be paid for its trouble. Wiltse’s letter to the Denver firm representing the RIAA asked the recording industry to reimburse NU for the cost of finding the offending students.

“We’re spending taxpayer dollars tracking down RIAA problems,” Weir said. “Are we an agent of the RIAA? Why aren’t they paying us for this?”

In response to NU’s request, the RIAA’s Engebretsen said, “It is neither practical nor appropriate for us to entertain a reimbursement request.”

Let’s be clear: UNL *did* play along with the recording industry, and tried to find the pirates in their midst. But their IT system doesn’t keep good records. The university changes IP addresses regularly, and they only keep one month’s records. So they’re unable to help the RIAA, and the university nonetheless runs up expenses.

On the one hand, boo-hiss UNL for dancing with the devil. But good on ‘em for sending the RIAA a bill! MARK ASHLEY

UNL proves safe haven for music pirates [Omaha World-Herald]

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  1. chimmike says:

    they made an EXCELLENT point….they are not an agent of RIAA, they are funded by taxpayer dollars. Therein, any action by a tax-funded organization on behalf of RIAA should be funded wholly by RIAA and in no part by the taxpayer…..

    That’s a good way for someone or a gov’t organization to sue RIAA for the dollars already spent by universities that work with RIAA to find offenders, and maybe slow ‘em down.

  2. boicraig says:

    Good to see the tables turned!

  3. Designersheets says:

    This is the same school that let Tommy Lee attend on for a TV show.

    * We used to live near their omaha campus it’s called UNO ! – i win whoo hoo.

  4. Anonymously says:

    Maybe the RIAA will consider paying them a commission for each extortion fee they collect from on of their students.

  5. junkmail says:

    “It is neither practical nor appropriate for us to entertain a reimbursement request.”

    AHHAHA that’s my favorite part. Because it IS practical and appropriate for them to expect everyone else to cowtow to their ridiculous, heavy-handed demands. Gotta love that double standard.

  6. junkmail says:

    BTW, GO BIG RED!!!!

  7. karmaghost says:

    Wow, nice headline ya got there, Omaha World-Herald. Is “flagrant douche-baggery” a prerequisite for employment over there?

  8. Edidid says:

    Hopefully someone in official state governemnt will see this for what it is: the RIAA is scamming their popultaion to pay for services at the expense of their education system.

    What is next? They refusing to pay for stamps on their threatening letters? Oh, they could go nonprofit since obviously they just exist for the public good.

  9. bravo369 says:

    I think this is a great idea. Telecom companies and universities should all send RIAA a bill. Say that these requests are outside of the bounds of their day to day job and overtime will be needed in order to comply. Then send the RIAA the bill for the OT employees will be working. Maybe this will only cause the RIAA to increase the settlement amount in order to offset these costs.

    If RIAA does not pay up, is Nebraska not going to comply?

  10. hudsong says:

    I go to unl, and I download A LOT of music and movies, so it was a relief when I saw this last week, even though the RIAA is kind of a joke these days.
    http://www.afterdawn.com/news/archive/7495.cfm

  11. gardencat says:

    For the cash amount they want to collect from each student that illegally downloaded music, the RIAA could instead make a donation to universities to help them with the cost of the special P2P blocking software (that the RIAA insists ) they need. Of course the software would greatly help, but it would not completely eliminate the problem. However, it could make a lot more sense than paying their lawyers to file lawsuit, after lawsuit, after lawsuit.

    Kudos to UNL

  12. 44 in a Row says:

    Also, IANAL, but I work with lots of them, and I’m pretty sure that when an actual lawsuit is filed, the party bringing the lawsuit is responsible for all sorts of expenses. If you’re suing me, and want to depose my boss, you have to pay for it. If you want copies of my medical records, you have to pay for copying. If you want to depose an expert witness, you’re paying his hourly rate. I get the sense that the RIAA is trying to stay away from “lawsuits” because that would subject them to things like, you know, rules.

  13. e-gadgetjunkie says:

    Is this starting to sound familiar to anyone?
    I’m sure soon the RIAA will start finding communists and witches among the pirates as well.

  14. ironchef says:

    $11 is too cheap. They need to go $111 per letter. College admins are being subsidized by student fees.

  15. John Stracke says:

    @chimmike:

    That’s a good way for someone or a gov’t organization to sue RIAA for the dollars already spent by universities that work with RIAA to find offenders, and maybe slow ‘em down.

    Won’t work. Those universities may have grounds to go after the RIAA for expenses; but I don’t see any reason the RIAA should offer those expenses up-front. However, I suppose the universities could be sued for wasting taxpayer money like this. One successful suit could make other universities much less willing to cooperate when the shakedown comes.

  16. MeOhMy says:

    @John Stracke:

    Those universities may have grounds to go after the RIAA for expenses; but I don’t see any reason the RIAA should offer those expenses up-front.

    Quid pro quo – If the RIAA wants the university to send its nastygrams upfront, the RIAA should be willing to pay their expenses up front.

    Of course, if anyone should be doing anything up front it should be the RIAA obtaining subpoenas, but then they would have to deal with “due process” and all of the other troublesome features of the legal system.

  17. mac-phisto says:

    i ditto the $11 is too cheap. we’re talking about lawyers here…people that bill in 5 minute increments & think an hour = $1000. except these lawyers think 3 minutes = $1000. we gotta talk on their terms. someone needs to figure out how many workhours are spent on this & then bill $1000 for each 3 minute increment.

    on the other hand…well, screw it. the other hand deserves to get chopped off.

  18. royal72 says:

    the extortion of an extortionist, by an extortionist… errr what?

  19. Nicholai says:

    only $11! They should charge like, $20.

  20. Trai_Dep says:

    They’re obviously only accounting for direct costs. They should apply the same scheme that the RIAA applies: indirect costs. Opportunity costs. Fixed costs. Cost costs. Sort like how Haliburton charges $1,067.98 for a pack of Starbursts in the Green Zone.

    And “It is neither practical nor appropriate for me to entertain a your request” should be affixed to every response to any RIAA communication. Forever.

  21. washington_irving says:

    I go to UNL as well. It’s not that UNL is bad at record keeping, it’s that the records aren’t necessary to keep. The RIAA only thinks they are.

  22. JohnMc says:

    “…But their IT system doesn’t keep good records. The university changes IP addresses regularly, and they only keep one month’s records. …”

    Might I point out that from a technical angle this sounds like the University is using DHCP to provide leases for the IP addresses to the students. Depending on how it is set up, those leases might expire daily. Which leads to the question is the right user being identified? The PC that is uing the lease today may not be the one using it tomorrow or next week.

  23. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Oh yeah? “It is neither convenient nor practical for us to entertain your dumbass request. Thank you very much. You will be billed for return postage. Delivery refused.”

  24. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Excuse me….”It is neither practical nor appropriate for us to entertain your request. Thank you very much for using University of Nebraska’s mail delivery system. The delivery of your nastygrams has been refused, and you will be billed for return postage of 25,000 letters.”