Yesterday, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School released a statement to all other schools. It was entitled “Universities to RIAA: Take a Hike.”
For those too pure to know what the RIAA is, let me explain. The Recording Industry Association of America is a company that works all kind of lawyer-magic and shady deals in order to stop the illegal sharing of the music owned by their members. Pretty much any popular music artist belongs to the RIAA. The RIAA boasts having 90% of all legitimate music sales in the U.S. If you have ever been sued or heard of someone being sued for downloading music, these were the guys behind it.
Jump to find out what Harvard is saying.
What is Harvard saying? In the recent statement Charles Nesson and John Palfrey say,
Harvard and the 22 universities to which the RIAA has sent “pre-litigation notices” ought to take strong, direct action…and tell the RIAA to take a hike.
What the RIAA do is through various, questionable methods obtain the IP address of the person illegally downloading music. This IP address is a unique address to access and communicate with the internet. The RIAA, then asks universities to give them the names of the people based on their IP address (the IP address will let the RIAA know which university the infringer is sharing from). Many times these universities will give-up the names of their students without any legal obligation. This is just wrong and Harvard asks that it stops. The main argument is as follows:
The university strives to create knowledge, to open the minds of students to that knowledge, and to enable students to take best advantage of their educational opportunities. The university has no legal obligation to deliver the RIAA’s messages. It should do so only if it believes that’s consonant with the university’s mission.
Hopefully, someone with more power than I have will take this Harvard letter seriously.