Purdue University Warns Students: The RIAA Wants Info on Thousands of You

Last week, 40,000+ students at Purdue (including myself) received a warning email. In short, stop illegal downloads, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is coming. Purdue is advising all computer users to remove or at least partially disable any peer-to-peer file sharing software on their computers.

The university doesn’t seem extremely thrilled by the new task, as Jeanne Norbert, Purdue spokesperson says, “It’s time-consuming on our part because the addresses used by a computer frequently change, but we will make a good faith effort to deliver the notices to the correct person.”

But what I don’t get is how that ties into this part of the email sent out:

“While the university will do its best to deliver these notices to the proper individuals, it is not responsible for the accuracy of the identification or address to which such notices are sent.”

What?! Who is responsible then? This is basically stating that mistakes are made, false accusations happen: but it’s not the university’s problem. And Norbert continues to push the issue with this statement:

“It can take computer forensic experts a significant amount of time to identify people who should receive notices. Given that RIAA could be asking us to contact thousands of users, this could be a significant cost to the university.”

So why would the university be interested in accuracy if a) this whole process is a “significant cost” and b) it’s not Purdue’s fault if it screws up? Call me Mr. Skeptical, but I have little faith in any institution that seems forced do something while simultaneously eliminating responsibility for its actions.

See the university press release here, the FAQ here, and the university’s recommendations here. And see below for a copy of the email sent out:

“Some users of the Purdue University Internet network this week will begin receiving notices of threatened legal action from the Recording Industry Association of America.

In a stepped-up effort to enforce music copyright, the association is harvesting Internet addresses of computers that allegedly offered music for others to download illegally. It then is sending emails to Internet service providers and asking that the emails be forwarded to these computer users. The notices offer the option of paying a settlement fee or facing legal action.

Purdue University, as an Internet service provider, will forward these emails to the user of the specified address when the user can be accurately identified. While the university will do its best to deliver these notices to the proper individuals, it is not responsible for the accuracy of the identification or address to which such notices are sent.

It will be up to each recipient to decide how to respond to these notices. All users of Purdue IT resources are ultimately responsible for their own conduct and for responding to any notification received from a copyright owner. Should an individual choose not to pay the settlement, the RIAA may ask Purdue for its logs for the purpose of pursuing legal action. The next step would be for RIAA to file a request to subpoena the name of the computer owner. The university will at all times honor valid subpoenas.

Purdue does not generally monitor the content of Internet transmissions. The university, however, can match computers to the addresses they use when connecting to the Internet.

Information on your legal obligations and methods to protect yourself can be found at:

http://www.purdue.edu/securepurdue/copyright.cfm

Individuals with questions regarding the settlement notice should contact legal counsel of their own choosing for advice.

Sincerely,

Gerry McCartney
Interim Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Purdue University

Thomas B. Robinson
Vice President for Student Services
Purdue University”

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  • http://www.gulbransen.net/preaching Dave!

    What?! Who is responsible then? This is basically stating that mistakes are made, false accusations happen: but it’s not the university’s problem.

    That’s right. It’s not the University’s problem: it is the RIAA’s problem. The University is making best efforts to deliver the notices properly–but with technologies like DHCP, it can take significant effort (read: money) to track down the correct user–if that can in fact be done at all. With that language, the University is 1) establishing they are making a good faith effort to comply 2) protecting themselves from potential inaccuracies and 3) placing the blame for pursuing the wrong person on the doorstep of the RIAA. Which is where it belongs. They are the ones suing anonymous people based on IP numbers. They should bear the costs of tracking down the users and they should deal with the consequences of inaccurate information.

  • Bob Caswell

    Dave,

    The problem, then (to clarify), is the disconnect between the responsible party and the party in charge of doing the work.

    Great. The RIAA is responsible. How does that help me if it’s the university that inaccurately pinned me? At the very least, a bunch of people will have their time wasted…

  • Riley Tolen

    RIAA is ridiculous. Sending a few lousy emails to college students will not hault file sharing. The record industry is spending millions to stop illegal pirating, but where has it got them? Major record labels need to realize the days of charging $15 to $20 dollars for a cd is over. Even if you are not downloading it for free, you can still get in on ebay for a couple bucks. Along with this, they have to accept that the market is changing. Google is a multi billion dollar company and does not charge their users a dime. As for downloading at no cost, the users are not the ones that need to change, the industry is.

  • Digit Pimp

    I laugh at the R.I.A.A.

    Anything they’ve released, I won’t even take the time to listen to it, when I can be mixing records, or writing some tunes.

    Dear R.I.A.A., M.P.A.A., and the B.S.A.:

    Instead of complaining about loss of sales that don’t even exist, why don’t you actually do something productive, like release something that’s beneficial. And a world without Microsoft wouldn’t be that bad. Who needs IE7 when we have university students and other brilliant minds who can write their own code, we can produce our own music, we are able to even produce our own films. Just go ahead and save yourself, and everyone else the headaches and tax dollars that you have stolen from the American people and come clean. The R.I.A.A.’s scare tactics do not impress me at all. We the people don’t need the services of the RIAA, MPAA, etc. anymore. We haven’t needed them in over 17 uryears.
    So, I have a question for the RIAA and MPAA: if yourf movies can’t compete with the millions of films made by independent producers and self publishers, that’s not OUR responsibility that your content is mad boring, it’s called a free market. (well to a extent)
    The RIAA and MPAA are nothing but a organized crime organization, that is seeking to profit in any means necessary, but although I’m not a customer this whole deal just doesn’t impress me one singlee bit. Every “anti-piracy” ad makes me laugh.

    Good thing no one in the P2P communityh that I know of has sharks as pets. LOL

    (BTW RIAA: Thank you for also helping to create the pirate. You shouldn’t even waste your time with DRM.

    It’s dead, and no copy protection mechanism is perfect. The 21st century if the human race plays it’s cards right, will be free open source software, copy protection as a thing of the past, since we have to create things for future civilizations on the planet.

    You’re right , most are intimidated by a true free market.