Observers are reporting a large increase in the number of DMCA copyright notices sent to colleges by the RIAA, and institutions like Indiana University are reporting a “20-fold increase” – sometimes as many as 80 per day.
University administrators note that there has not been a recorded increase in file-sharing activity, and – unlike in the past – many of the RIAA’s notices don’t have any corresponding activity in university traffic logs.
“We are not sure [whether] what we have is an allegation of copyright infringement or an allegation of possible future illegal behavior,” said IU associate vice president of IT Mark Bruhn. “The whole thing is very concerning, to be frank. We don't know why they are doing this and I'm not sure they know what they are doing.”
The Chronicle for Higher Education reports similar increases from George Washington University, which is now seeing over 120 notices per week, up from the usual “five to 10.” Wired’s Threat Level confirmed a surge with the University of Chicago.
The RIAA, when questioned about the increase of letters and Indiana University’s findings regarding their accuracy, said there were no changes in its procedures. “We are always making an effort to more effectively and efficiently detect infringing activity on the Internet, as we are continuously looking for ways to improve our ability to find and act on incidences of theft online. Having said that, there's been no change,” said RIAA spokeswoman Liz Kennedy. Follow-up inquiries, sent by Wired were not returned.
Some think the RIAA’s actions may be politically motivated: “Public universities are in a unique position since the industry puts pressure on us through state legislatures to try to impose what are widely considered to be draconian content monitoring measures and turn us into tech police forces in support of a specific industry,” said University of California at Berkeley CIO Shel Waggener.
The content industry is pushing initiatives that compel public schools to action after a threshold volume of notices is met, said Luker. Such legislation is currently working its way through a number of states, including Illinois and Tennessee.
“The number of DMCA notices that are sent to a university vary wildly from one day to the next, and no one, including the federal government knows how they send them out or what criteria they use,” said Luker. “It is not reasonable in any way to use those counts as a basis for government actions.”
quote: Justifying theft doesn't change what it is, and unfortunately few people seem to understand that.
quote: If it is not worth your money, why is it worth the effort of finding and downloading and listening to?
quote: Music companies are out to make money.
quote: The ability to copy something infinitely at no cost and with very little effort means that anything that isn't priced very close to its actual value isn't going to be purchased legitimately, and music is still generally overpriced.
quote: Downloading a copy, as opposed to buying a CD, deprives them of the money they would have made off of you. How is that not theft?
quote: Should we all get books for free?
quote: That's assuming that the only money and labor going into the music... is its distribution. What about all the work of producing music, mixing, editing, etc...?
quote: The vast majority of the content that I download, however, I would simply do without if I could not download them for free...I haven't deprived anybody of my cash in that case, because if my only option were to buy the album, I would just pass completely.
quote: So what makes you entitled to the content for free?
quote: If it isn't worth your money, you shouldn't be entitled to the content just because you can.
quote: And if books were free... how are we going to compensate authors so that they can keep writing full time?
quote: Who is going to write these free books?
quote: That's assuming that the only money and labor going into the music... is its distribution. What about all the work of producing music, mixing, editing, etc...? Should we all get books for free? I wish textbooks were... they're easy to copy, can be scanned and uploaded, just like music. Just because copying doesn't take much effort doesn't mean producing it doesn't.
quote: On a more interesting note, have any of the Music/Movie/Software comapnies thought about what IF you bought the CD/DVD/software and lost the disc? You should be entitled to replace what you bought at no charge as you already paid for it. Most of what I have read online and in professional radio magazines has never even topuched this point in hte DMRA and I will be rather interested if anyone can point out anything on this thought.
quote: “The whole thing is very concerning, to be frank. We don't know why they are doing this and I'm not sure they know what they are doing.”
quote: We are not sure [whether] what we have is an allegation of copyright infringement or an allegation of possible future illegal behavior,”