RIAA to Florida Students: Your Money or Your Money

A University of South Florida student recently received a letter asking for $3,000 from the Recording Industry Association of America for illegally downloading music, according to a Fox broadcast last week.

Amber Nisson told Fox that she had no idea she could be punished for a crime that other students also committed. While connected to the USF computer network, she illegally downloaded copyrighted music using a file-sharing program called Lime Wire.

Nisson received a pre-litigation letter from the RIAA that said she must pay $3,000 or face the possibility of a $500,000 lawsuit.

The association has begun monitoring the actions of university computer networks, and they’ve targeted five Florida colleges since last February, sending out more than 400 letters a month.

University of Tampa students expressed their irritation with the RIAA, and offered alternative solutions to the downloading problem.

“Artists make enough money as it is,” said Evan Lubin a student at The University of Tampa. “The RIAA is just trying to scare us.”

Lubin suggested the RIAA go after the schools that provide the Internet networks that make the illegal activity possible.

“They should control what students can access,” he said.

Cameron Razi said he thinks downloading music illegally is wrong, but doesn’t feel the people who download should be punished. People would not be able to illegally consume copyrighted music if it wasn’t made readily available by those who uploaded it, he said.

The RIAA claims one in three college students illegally downloads music and that the music industry suffered more than $12.5 billion in losses from such activity.

In order to compensate for losses, illegal file sharers are being asked to pay a fine and are warned that the longer they wait to pay, the more they will owe.

“Punish the people providing the music available for download,” said Razi.

Both students agreed that the punishment does not seem to fit the crime. They questioned how the RIAA could justify charging a person who illegally downloaded one song and a person who illegally downloaded 1,000 songs the same amount of money.

“We should at least receive a warning before getting fined,” said UT junior Brian Darling. “If people knew the consequences, they would be more likely to stop downloading.”

Students may not even know they’re breaking the law, other students argued.

“These Web sites make you think that you’re doing nothing wrong,” said UT senior Kristen Benoit.

With people of all ages downloading, some questioned why the RIAA was targeting college students.

“College kids are poor!” Benoit said. “We’re still young and we feel like nothing bad can happen to us.”

Still, students face the possibility of receiving one of the RIAA’s letters and must decide whether to pay or to fight.

“Music downloading has been happening for a while, and it will continue to happen,” said UT student Adrian Canillo.

Contributors: Kristine Kodytek, Cameron Razi, Evan Lubin, Kristen Benoit, Kathryn Anilionis, Sierra Mims, Rachel Schule

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