Is The RIAA Afraid Of Harvard?

Of all the Ivy League schools, Harvard is the only one to have escaped the deluge of RIAA pre-litigation letters. What gives?

Ars Technica speculates:

There may be another factor at work here: hostility towards the RIAA’s campaign on the part of Harvard Law School professors Charles Nesson and John Palfrey, who run the law school’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Responding to the RIAA’s claim that its litigation strategy has “invigorated a meaningful conversation on college campuses about music theft, its consequences and the numerous ways to enjoy legal music,” the profs called on Harvard to not betray the “trust and privacy” of its students.

“The university has no legal obligation to deliver the RIAA’s messages. It should do so only if it believes that’s consonant with the university’s mission,” wrote Nesson and Palfrey. “[The RIAA seems] to be engaging in a classic tactic of the bully facing someone much weaker: threatening such dire consequences that the students settle without the issue going to court. The issue is that the university should not be carrying the industry’s water in bringing lawsuits.”

Meanwhile, the 68-year-old CEO of Universal Music Group, Doug “Repositories For Stolen Music” Morris, recently told Wired that the record industry was (is?) so clueless about technology that they couldn’t even figure out if someone was lying to them or not:

Morris insists there wasn’t a thing he or anyone else could have done differently. “There’s no one in the record company that’s a technologist,” Morris explains. “That’s a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn’t. They just didn’t know what to do. It’s like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?”

Personally, I would hire a vet. But to Morris, even that wasn’t an option. “We didn’t know who to hire,” he says, becoming more agitated. “I wouldn’t be able to recognize a good technology person — anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me.” Morris’ almost willful cluelessness is telling. “He wasn’t prepared for a business that was going to be so totally disrupted by technology,” says a longtime industry insider who has worked with Morris. “He just doesn’t have that kind of mind.”

Why the RIAA may be afraid of targeting Harvard students [Ars Technica]
Universal’s CEO Once Called iPod Users Thieves. Now He’s Giving Songs Away. [Wired via BoingBoing]
(Photo:Joe Shlabotnik)

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