This isn’t really recent news, but after reading an opinion article in the University of Washington’s newspaper, the Daily, I felt I needed to say something. Anyways, over the summer, the university agreed to pass along “pre-settlement” letters from the Recording Industry Association of America notifying students who have committed copyright infringement that they have the option to pay $3000 to $5000 (or more) to the RIAA. If the person doesn’t pay (or doesn’t get the letter), the RIAA will file a lawsuit for even more money.
As you can very well imagine, this produced varied reactions from students when they found out. With the UW being the liberal bastion any major public university is, the reactions were mainly negative. That’s because most students are too stupid to look any farther into the story. All they see is UW forwarding RIAA letters and they scream “Oh noes! Our college is cooperating with the evil RIAA to steal all our money!” Here’s the real story: the university agreed to forward the letters to students when there is reasonable evidence that a student has illegally downloaded copyrighted material. They’re actually doing students a favor. If UW refused to forward the letters (much like the University of Wisconsin did), students wouldn’t be aware of the chance to settle with the RIAA. They’d only find out when the RIAA presents them with a lawsuit for a lot of money with no chance to settle for less. Which is better: paying $3000 or paying $10,000 plus court fees?