The music industry is cracking down on college students who are illegally downloading music. Thousands more complaints are being sent out to top universities this school year than previous years. The music industry is targeting music illegally downloaded over campus computer networks. A few schools have already received over 1,000 complaints accusing individual students of downloading music. There have reportedly been significant increases in the number of students downloading music on their college campus. Students who are caught receive punishments ranging from simple email warnings to harsher punishments of semester long suspensions.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), has been pressuring schools to take more aggressive action against online pirates on campus. RIAA President Cary Sherman said, “It’s something we have to do. We have to let people know that if they engage in this activity, they are not anonymous.” For those students who repeatedly download songs and also share files of hundreds or thousands of illegally downloaded songs, the RIAA is filing expensive civil lawsuits against them.
The RIAA believes that each university should have it’s own set of penalties for stealing music. When looking at the illegal downloading problem, the RIAA sees the problem is more prevalent on college campuses. In the day and age of iPods and mp3 players, downloading music is an activity that many students engage in to quickly get access to the songs they want without having to buy the whole CD. While there are legal sites for downloading music such as iTunes and Rhapsody, many students opt not to pay for the songs they are downloading and instead illegally download them for free.
Two schools that are ranked among the highest in complaints for students illegally downloading music are Ohio and Purdue. Both universities have already received more than 1,000 complaints this semester alone. Purdue only had 37 complaints for the entire 2006 year but so far this year they ahve 1.068 complaints. Purdue rarely even notifies students who have been accused by the RIAA of illegal downloading because they say it’s too much trouble to track down the alleged offenders. The school claims it’s students are not repeat offenders. According to Purdue’s spokesman Steve Tally, “In a sense, the complaint letter is asking us to pursue an investigation and as the service provider we don’t see that as our role. We are a leading technology school with thousands and thousands of curious and talented technology students.”
Whether it’s the current wave of iPods, which are getting increasingly smaller and also holding more music, the RIAA has it’s work cut out for them. Students aren’t the only ones downloading music illegally and if it’s this hard to crack down on students on college campuses, it’s going to be an extra headache to crack down on those who are downloading music form their homes or other places where the internet is available to them. The RIAA has complained about close to 15,000 students at the 25 universities that top the list for illegal downloading. The top five schools on this list are previously mentioned Ohio and Purdue, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Tennessee and the University of South Carolina. The number of students being complained about has nearly tripled since last year.
The RIAA is trying to make a statement. Some schools have been trying to comply, meeting with those students who are caught and making them watch an anti-piracy DVD produced by the RIAA. Many students don’t see the big deal and are often surprised when they’re caught and their friends aren’t. I guess if you’re getting in trouble for something “everyone else is doing,” it’s time you stopped following the crowd.