Moving to avoid the embarrassment of lawsuits, Pennsylvania State University
has pulled the plug on 220 students found trading in copyrighted digital
files on its network.
The Penn State move comes just weeks after the Recording Industry
Association of America (RIAA) slapped
lawsuits on four student file-swappers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute (RPI), Princeton University and Michigan Technological
Penn State, one of several U.S. schools under the RIAA’s anti-piracy gun,
said it had cut off the broadband Internet connections for about 220
students after investigations showed the students were using the school’s
network to trade inn “publicly listed copyright infringing materials.”
The students that were penalized all access the Internet from Penn
State’s campus residence halls and reports say the connections will be
restored once the copyrighted files have been removed from the systems.
The school had issued a warning to its 110,000 students in March, warning
that illegal trading of copyrighted material was against the law. Penn
State has dedicated a special
section of its Web site to deal with digital media issues, including
tutorials on ‘Respect for Intellectual Property Rights’ and ‘Obtaining
Copyrighted Materials Legally’.
While Penn State washed its hands of the legal mess, the Michigan
Technological University (MTU) was not so lucky. One of MTU’s students, Joe
Nievelt, was sued by the RIAA before the school could get a chance to act on
a complaint from the music industry trade association.
Clearly irked by the litigation move, MTU president Curtis Tompkins slammed the
RIAA for turning a blind eye to the school’s efforts to curb illegal
file-sharing within its network and hinted that the RIAA was more interested
in lawsuits and publicity.
“I believe that we would not be facing this situation with Joseph Nievelt
today had we been able to gain your help in providing additional information
to our student body. We have cooperated fully with the RIAA, but in recent
months, have not seen the same from your organization,” Tompkins said in a
letter to the association.
“You have obviously known about this situation with Joe Nievelt for quite
some time. Had you followed the previous methods established in notification
of a violation, we would have shut off the student and not allowed the
problem to grow to the size and scope that it is today,” he added.
“I am very disappointed that the RIAA decided to take this action in this
manner. As a fully cooperating site, we would have expected the courtesy of
being notified early and allowing us to take action following established
procedures, instead of allowing it to get to the point of lawsuits and
publicity,” Tompkins added.