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March 21, 2007

Purdue to deliver the mail for recording industry to alleged music pirates

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Some users of the Purdue University Internet network will begin receiving notices this week 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 asking Internet service providers to forward notices via e-mail to the addresses through which alleged infringements have occurred, offering the computer owner the option of paying a settlement fee or facing legal action.

Purdue University, as an Internet service provider, will forward these notices to the user of the specified address when the user can be accurately identified.

"In passing this mail along to users of our network, Purdue is not passing judgment on the validity of the allegations," said Purdue spokesperson Jeanne Norberg. "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. The university has an interest in making sure its network is not used for illegal purposes. It also has an obligation to inform members of the community that they may be facing legal action. It will be up to the recipients of the notices to decide whether they want to pay the proposed settlement or have their day in court."

The RIAA announced this nationwide campaign in early March. 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 subpoena for the individuals' names.

Purdue will honor such subpoenas, Norberg said.

"This is a serious ethical, economic and legal problem that affects not only the record and movie industry, but will cost all of us," Norberg said. "The university will have to bear considerable expense as the result of illegal practices - and we all are the university, whether students, faculty or staff. 

"It can take computer forensic experts a significant amount of time to identify some of the people who should receive notices. This type of expertise is very specialized and very expensive. Given that RIAA could be asking us to contact thousands of users, this could be a significant cost to the university."

To protect yourself against such allegations, Purdue advises all computer users to remove or at least partially disable any peer-to-peer file sharing software on their computers. The Office of Information Technology at Purdue suggests you visit http://www.purdue.edu/securepurdue/copyright.cfm for information on how to disable file sharing on a variety of programs.

"You could then still download files for academic purposes, but this would block an intruder trying to illegally obtain music from your computer," Norberg said. "Otherwise, computer owners who have installed peer-to-peer file sharing on their computer may unwittingly be allowing their computers to be remotely accessed by music pirates."

The RIAA is not alone in policing copyright. The Motion Picture Association of America strives to protect copyright. Purdue also monitors bandwidth usage on campus, including in the residence halls. So far in this academic year, Purdue has sent 2,500 notices to students regarding such violations. Of these, Internet access was denied temporarily to 420, and approximately 20 lost their privileges for a year and will be on probation for the following academic year.

"We are doing all we can to inform the campus community about its rights and  responsibilities," Norberg said. "An e-mail will be sent campuswide tomorrow explaining this to everyone as well.

"If we want good music, we have to pay the people who create it. Paying for music at sites such as Apple's iTunes, MSN Music, Rhapsody or Ruckus is a lot cheaper than losing your Internet service or paying major fines."

Source: Jeanne Norberg, (765) 494-2084, jnorberg@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

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