June 26, 2008

Students Could Be Target of Next Illegal File-Sharing Lawsuit

By Ed Treleven, The Wisconsin State Journal

Jun. 26--In a signal that more copyright infringement lawsuits could be coming against students in the UW System, the Recording Industry Association of America filed a lawsuit in federal court in Madison Wednesday seeking the names of people it believes illegally downloaded music at UW facilities.

The John Doe lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Madison by the RIAA, seeks the identities of 48 people who were monitored downloading copyrighted music over Internet-based file-sharing networks in 2007 and 2008.

According to documents filed with the lawsuit, 26 of the Internet Protocol numbers for whom the RIAA is seeking user identities were from Internet connections at UW-Milwaukee, 12 were from UW-Eau Claire, five were from UW-Stout, three were from UW-Madison, and one each were from UW-Stevens Point and UW-Parkside.

In order to get the names of people suspected of having downloaded music, the RIAA must file a lawsuit in court against people it knows only by IP number.

That number identifies the Internet connection and the provider of the Internet service that was being used. A judge can, and usually does, order the Internet service provider to turn over the names of people who were using that IP number at the time specified by the RIAA. Last year, the RIAA filed a similar lawsuit in federal court in Madison seeking the names of 53 people associated with the UW System who downloaded music from the Internet using file-sharing networks. But only four lawsuits were filed against suspected music downloaders last year in federal court in Madison.

Two cases resulted in voluntary dismissals by the RIAA for unspecified reasons, one lawsuit was settled out of court and a fourth ended in a default judgment of $6,550 against a woman who failed to respond to the lawsuit.

About 30 people have been sued by the recording industry for copyright violations in U.S. District Court in Madison since 2003, after the industry began cracking down on music downloads. No cases here have ever gone to trial.


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