Five students from the University of Northern Colorado have been caught up in the American music industry's sweep against music file swappers.
In a letter to university president Kay Norton, Recording Industries Association of America president Cary Sherman said it was merely targeting the "particular individuals on your network who have offered to give away hundreds of copyrighted music files to millions of anonymous strangers".
Sherman, among other things, thanks Norton for her understanding and support, which seems somewhat presumptuous. We reproduce his letter, released by the University to the student body in full, except for the telephone number, below.
The RIAA yesterday escalated legal actions to stamp out illegal music file swapping over the Internet with 532 new lawsuits.
For the first time the RIAA is sueing ordinary students for downloading music, as opposed to its previous strategy of targeting only students who were active uploaders, who made available many music files for trading over the Net.
Yesterday it issued 89 John Doe suits (i.e. it doesn't know their names but intends to find out) to 21 universities in 12 states. Only the University of Michigan was named yesterday by the RIAA. ®
Dear President Norton:
I am President of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). I wanted to give you a personal "heads up" that tomorrow, Tuesday, March 23rd, several of the RIAA's member companies will file a John Doe lawsuit against 5 users of your university network.
These actions are part of a well-publicized enforcement program we launched last year to address the pervasive problem of music copyright infringement over peer-to-peer networks.
I want to assure you that this lawsuit is not in any way focused on the University of Northern Colorado, or on the operation of its network. Rather, it is focused on the conduct of the particular individuals on your network who have offered to give away hundreds of copyrighted music files to millions of anonymous strangers. This is an issue of individuals being responsible for their illegal actions, and not an issue with the university. In fact, the defendants in the lawsuits will include users on a variety of networks, including other university and commercial ISP networks. I intend to make all this clear in any public comments I may have.
As you know, the whole point of this program is to protect the rights of copyright owners against rampant online piracy and to foster an environment where legal online music services can flourish. Enforcement is only one component of that campaign, but it is an essential one.
We are also extraordinarily grateful for the proactive steps undertaken by the university community to address the epidemic of illegal file sharing. The partnership that we have forged has been enormously productive for both the music and higher education communities, and we look forward to continuing that collaborative relationship.
Please feel free to contact me at xxx-xxx-xxxx if you have any questions or you would like to discuss this matter. If you are unable to reach me, you may also contact Barry Robinson or Stanley Pierre-Louis at the same telephone number.
Thank you for your understanding and your support.
Cary H. Sherman