Kent State offers legal alternative to downloading music

Christopher Hook

In its efforts to halt the 1.3 billion illegal downloads occurring every year, the Recording Industry Association of America is undergoing an initiative on college campuses where an estimated 2.6 million university students illegally engaged in file-sharing through platforms such as Kazaa and Limewire.

The RIAA says more than half the total population of students download “frequently.”

“It’s an easy-to-reach, massive piece of the population,” said Carol Crimi, senior legal attorney at Student Legal Services.

The RIAA monitors such peer-to-peer services as Kazaa and Limewire.

As part of the association’s initiative, 400 letters per month are being sent to universities across the United States – 424 copyright infringements thus far have been sent to Kent State, said Kimberly Price, associate IT senior engineer, in an e-mail interview.

In February, the RIAA released a list of the top 25 worst offending piracy schools for the academic year 2006-2007 with Kent State as No. 17 on the list.

The RIAA finds individual users by their IP addresses and, in some cases, their online user names. Because the student is using the university network to download music and movies, the association will send “John Doe” letters to individual universities, whose job, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, is to find the students.

“Upon receipt of this notice, the university must take action to stop copyright infringement from occurring on its network,” Price said.

“John Doe” letters allow for students to settle with the RIAA within a period of 20 days. That is, the student can pay the $3,000 flat rate for downloading.

After the 20 days, the student will be given the chance to settle again, but this time it’s for $4,000.

If the student decides not to respond and settle out of court, the RIAA will then file a “John Doe” lawsuit against the alleged student in federal court, Price said.

To dissuade students from downloading illegally, Kent State and the Department of Security and Compliance recently negotiated a contract with Ruckus Music Inc., a legal downloading platform. Through Ruckus, students can download and keep an unlimited amount of music on their computers for free.

Students cannot burn music from Ruckus onto CDs, but for $20 a semester, they can upload music onto non-iPod mp3 players, such as Dell’s Digital Jukebox.

Kent State’s Office of Security and Compliance has developed an informational brochure for freshmen that will be distributed during orientation. This brochure will accompany an all-student e-mail warning about illegal downloading to be sent out sometime close to the start of fall semester.

Contact news correspondent Christopher Hook at [email protected].


Check out

Ruckus is a legal music downloading service Kent State recently signed a contract with.

All you need to sign up is a PC, a Kent State e-mail address and plenty of hard drive space if you want to download all of the 2.5 million songs offered.

All the songs are in a WMA file format and must be played on the Ruckus music player, which is available for free download. The files can also be played on other players that support the WMA file format until the 30-day license expires.