News

RIAA returns to campus

For the second time in a year, Carnegie Mellon students are facing subpoenas from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for illegally sharing copyrighted files. Last week, the RIAA issued Computing Services notice of an ?intent to subpoena? an unknown number of students who have been caught sharing files illegally on i2Hub.

According to Joel Smith, vice provost and chief information officer for Computing Services, the RIAA notified Computing Services of illegal file sharing on the network this past week. Since Computing Services acts as an Internet service provider, the RIAA notified them and provided information about specific machines on the network that have been engaging in illegal file sharing.

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act passed by Congress in 1998, Computing Services is obligated to respond and identify which individuals are registered to the computers. While the University will not be subpoenaed, the RIAA issues individual subpoenas based on the amount of illegal information shared.
Computing Services has the option of notifying students of the RIAA?s intent to subpoena. Smith says Computing Service warns every student that a subpoena may be coming to their mailbox.

According to Smith, the wave of subpoenas is part of a plan of the RIAA to curtail illegal sharing on Internet2, a private alternative network providing electronic access to 207 primary research universities, including Carnegie Mellon. i2hub, file-sharing software that uses Internet2, is the most common source of illegal sharing for students.

?A lot of high-quality [Internet] service at CMU is because of Internet2,? said Smith. Internet2, which allows students to download at speeds higher than even most high-speed networks, is an attractive option for students to download music.

?There?s a mistaken notion here that Internet2 is a closed network,? Smith said. ?People think sharing can?t be seen. That?s just false.?

This is the second wave of RIAA subpoenas to Carnegie Mellon students. Last April, up to 40 students were issued letters of intent to subpoena from the RIAA. Although many people felt the letters were merely a warning, the RIAA has followed up on its subpoenas.

One Carnegie Mellon student, who wishes to remain anonymous, received a letter of intent to subpoena last spring. In August, he received a letter requesting a settlement ? an agreement that could cost him thousands of dollars.

According to the student, settlement consists of paying $750 per violation. Settlement amounts are determined in proportion to how many songs a student is claimed to have been sharing. If the student doesn?t wish to settle, he can be sued for $750 for each song. Depending on the students? ?brackets,? students can be sued for multiple thousands of dollars.

Computing Services has not yet figured out all of the students that will receive letters of intent to subpoena this fall. They have until next week to submit names to the RIAA.

Considering this is the second wave of RIAA subpoenas, Smith said, ?It?s not hard to identify anyone who is sharing copyrighted files.?