The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has sent out pre-litigation letters once more, this time to even more colleges around the nation. One school included in the latest mass mailing was Central Michigan University, yet another Michigan state school to be targeted by record companies. Northern Michigan, the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor and Michigan State had already been served with papers from RIAA, on behalf of the record companies.
After this last wave of litigation – which began on Nov. 15 – the record companies will have served over 4,000 individuals on college campuses with papers, offering each a $3,000 settlement in lieu of a full-blown lawsuit for the alleged pirating of copyrighted material. How can the average college student be expected to cover a fine roughly equal to the cost of a semester’s worth of an NMU education?
Even if a student can cover the cost of the fine, the larger issue may be the demographic that is being targeted by these actions. The recording industry has mainly gone after college students during these hunts, the same demographic described as the most avid music fans on the RIAA Web site.
Those college students, who are probably living below the poverty line, now have to shell out $3,000 to large companies, who despite dropping sales, are well above the poverty line.
If things were different, and the record companies were playing Robin Hood – taking from the rich and giving to the poor – perhaps the RIAA would have more of a squeaky-clean image.
But that’s not the case. Record companies are still multi-million-dollar businesses.
Despite the target on our backs, college students should clearly not be thought of as victims. We are being punished for our wrongdoings, and it’s difficult, if not impossible, to argue otherwise.
Now, with four of our fellow students on the verge of a court decision, we’re finally realizing the immediacy of these pending lawsuits, and the seriousness of the crime.
Offered opportunities to download legally, both for free and at a price, we still refuse to play by the rules.
Remember the phrase, “wrong place, wrong time?” Well, that doesn’t apply here. If you end up as one of the ones who gets caught, then it’s your own fault. You knew you were doing wrong, and it was only a matter of time.