Justin McElroy at the Herald-Dispatch sends us a link to a PDF of the letter RIAA lawyers sent to college students, accusing them of infringing copyright and offering to settle if they identify themselves and confess. From Justin’s article:
Unfortunately for the students who have been targeted (a group that apparently includes both downloaders and sharers), minimum damages that the RIAA can request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is $750 per infringement. For students who have hundreds of songs on their computer, that could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
After the deadline, the RIAA says that they’ll subpoena the names of the students they say they’ve caught infringing copyright law.
“If the RIAA goes after the students directly, we will have no choice than to give them the names,” said Jan Fox, vice president for Information Technology [at Marshall University].
Fox points out that the infringements are all recent, but even if they are first time offenses, students can still be held liable.
Fox doesn’t know why Marshall, located in Huntington, West Virginia was chosen as one of the 13 colleges to be threatened by the RIAA, but speculates it may have something to do with the name recognition stemming from We Are Marshall.
The RIAA writes:
“We have asked your Internet Service Provider to forward this letter to you in advance of our filing lawsuit against you in federal court for copyright infringement. We represent a number of large record companies, including SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group, as well as all of their subsidiaries (“Record Companies,”) in perusing claims of copyright infringement against individuals who have illegally uploaded or downloaded sound-recordings on peer-to-peer networks.
We have gathered evidence that you have been infringing copyrights owned by the Record Companies. We are attaching to this letter a sample of the sound recordings you were found distributing via the AresWarezUS (Ares) peer-to-peer network. In total, you were found to be distributing 321 files, a substantial number of which are sound recordings controlled by the Record Companies.
The reason we are sending you this letter to you in advance of filing suit is to give you the opportunity to settle these claims are early as possible. If you contact us within the next twenty (20) calendar days, we will offer to settle the claims for a significantly reduced amount compared to the judgment amount a court may enter against you…
Marshall students could owe hundreds of thousands in RIAA suit [Herald-Dispatch]
RIAA Letter (PDF)[Herald-Dispatch]