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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

8 Brandeis students total sued for file sharing

Published: September 2, 2005
Section: News

Brandeis has made it onto the Recording Industry Association of Americas (RIAA) watch list since the RIAAs first round of lawsuits, which were directed at 13 different colleges over illegal use of the file-sharing program i2hub.

A representative from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has stated, on condition of anonymity, that since [the] lawsuits began in September 2003, [the RIAA] has sued eight individual users on the Brandeis system. Five have settled, and three are still pending. The three that are pending were sued in during the latest round of law suits in May. ITS refused to divulge the alleged user or users identities.

The controversial peer-to-peer, or P2P, server i2hub opened in 2004, and has since grown to accommodate over 206 schools and affiliated institutions across the country. Using ultra-fast Internet2 technology, i2hub turned what used to be over a 50-hour download of the movie The Matrix into a 30-second success, harnessing i2hubs innovations with Internet2 with the raw power of over 140 separate collegiate internet bases.

However, in the case of i2hub, like Napster and Kazaa before it, the free and easily-downloadable music and films have potentially put Brandeis users under the radar of the Recording Industry Association of America.

Some of the others colleges amongst the 33 under attack by the RIAA are Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Princeton, Wake Forest, and even schools as far away and remote as the University of Missouri-Rolla, the University of Toledo, and the University of Southern California. According to a report by the RIAA, the RIAA has evidence of i2hub infringement at another 140 schools in 41 states.

As long as students continue to corrupt this specialized academic network for the flagrant theft of music, we will continue to make it clear that there are consequences for these unlawful actions, said Cary Sherman, the President of the RIAA, in a press release May 26. With the multitude of legal music alternatives available to students today, there is simply no excuse for this ongoing, illegal downloading on college campuses.

Out of the numerous other colleges being scrutinized for illegal use of i2hub, Brandeis University, with barely over 3000 students, has one of the smallest student populations. According to Brandeis policy, unauthorized file sharing is prohibited.

As of April 2005, no more than 25 studentstwo of those 25-suit cases being Boston University and UMass-Amherstwere being sued per university, for averages of 2300 [mp3 files][with] the average number of total files [being] more than 3900, according to the RIAAs report April 12. Still, one anonymous student from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was sued for four or five songs he didnt even know he had.

According to the RIAAs latest report May 28, there are 91 lawsuits being filed amongst the student population of the 33 colleges. In addition, the industry is filing John Doe suitslawsuits based on the users IP address via their Internet Service Provider, or ISPagainst 649 individuals for usage of Kazaa, LimeWire, and Grokster.

There is much speculation over how the RIAA gained access to i2hubs private network in order to send its subpoenas, especially as in the fall the RIAAs request for Internet2 access was denied.

On the Constitutional Code weblog covering the RIAAs i2hub crackdown, an anonymous Princeton computer science professor was interviewed, saying there are 10,000 different PCs on the Princeton networkwhen theres that many people, its hard to try to monitor and control access that closely. He also went on record mentioning the offers from small companies to the RIAA to hack into private file-sharing servers to find conclusive evidence.

Its not clear if the record industry is buying their services. It wouldnt look good if they were because they would basically be purchasing viruses, he said.

The majority of those sued are those who share files, as opposed to simply downloading them, as the RIAA cannot tell who is downloading from whom. People who share files, on the other handpeople who have music downloaded from themhave all the files they are sharing listed for everyone, including the RIAA, to see thus making them a choice target for the RIAA.

According to mybrandeis thread RIAA targeting i2hub, those who would be sued by the RIAA would receive notice one week before the actual lawsuit would be filed, giving the potential defendant time to review the subpoena.

Move to beginning? In regards to questions regarding whether the University released the students name to the RIAA, President Jehuda Reinharz would not give a direct answer, instead telling the Hoot that the University may only release information on students in accordance with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Brandeis Policy. Reinharz would not elaborate over the extent Brandeis would follow FERPA, including whether or not IP addresses and the names attached to them could be potentially given to organizations such as the RIAA.

President Reinharz also added that the University complies with all valid legal process, after careful review by our General Counselthe General Counsel for the University does not represent student in connection with their personal matters.

As the last reported lawsuit was filed back in May or June, however, with the latest RIAA press release stating there were 91 lawsuits total amongst the 33 colleges, this reporter speculates that lawsuits dating from the previous school year have already run their course.

However, if a user has not been sued for past usage of i2hub or similar P2P servers, does not mean that there cannot be further reprisal for additional illegal usage after the fact.