February 22, 2007 | By Derek Slater

Colleges Struggle to Cope With Flood of Copyright Complaints

The major record labels are sending thousands more copyright nastygrams to colleges regarding student file sharing this year. Of course, file sharing continues unabated, and these P2P-related notices will simply push fans to use other readily-accessible technologies that the RIAA can't easily monitor -- copying music through iTunes over the campus LAN, swapping hard drives and USB flash drives, burning recordable DVDs, and forming ad hoc wireless networks.

So the RIAA's strategy still won't stop file sharing, but it certainly will cause collateral damage to academic freedom, free speech, and privacy. In a recently released report, the Brennan Center lays out what that cost looks like today based on interviews with representatives from 25 service providers including 10 from universities. Universities are already being forced to waste substantial resources on doing the RIAA's dirty work. Flooded with machine-generated complaints, schools are unable to evaluate the merits of particular complaints. While lacking procedural safeguards to make sure students wrongly accused of infringement are not penalized, many schools have adopted stricter penalties than the law requires. Schools have also adopted network monitoring and filtering tools that interfere with legitimate expression.

The increase in P2P-related notices stands only to make matters worse. The RIAA's Cary Sherman states that the increase in the notices is "something we feel we have to do," but blanket licensing provides a clear alternative to blanket lawsuits. Take action now to help stop the lawsuit campaign.

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