A recently filed appeal by the state of Oregon's Attorney General's Office has added an interesting twist in the ongoing battle between the recording industry and music listeners. The appeal calls for an immediate investigation into the evidence-gathering methods of the RIAA, and comes following letters sent by the RIAA to the University of Oregon in June claiming to have evidence of illegal music downloading by certain IP addresses within the university's network. The RIAA subpoenaed the identities of 17 students who were assigned the IP addresses in question and asked that the letters, which also included settlement offers, be given to the students.
This is the second time Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers has resisted the RIAA. In October, Myers filed a motion on behalf of the University of Oregon, saying that the university was unable to identify 16 of the 17 alleged downloaders based on the information provided by the RIAA. Because the subpoenaed students accessed the copyrighted content from double-occupancy dorms, the university was unable to know who exactly downloaded the songs or if it was even done by individuals living in the dorms. As I'm sure any self-respecting freshman who's been busted with Fall Out Boy on their computer can attest to ("I swear to GOD I didn't download that! It must have been one of those dudes from the other hall we had over playing Quarters on Friday."), this kind of thing happens all the time.
The UO's newspaper, The Daily Emerald, notes that "the University has a policy of shutting down access to network users discovered to have illegally downloaded materials on their computers. ResNet, which serves campus residence halls with Internet access, shut down access to as many as 24 students each week during the last school year."
The Attorney General maintains that the reason for the appeal is not because the university condones music piracy, but rather because a forensic investigation would have to be done to discover who exactly did the downloading, and therefore that the request was “overbroad and burdensome,” as stated in the Eugene, OR newspaper, The Register-Guard. Also in question is whether or not the information in question is "personally identifiable information," which would violate the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act. In an e-mail sent to the campus newspaper, RIAA spokesperson Cara Duckworth said, "The suggestion that the collection of such information is somehow an invasion of privacy is indeed misinformed, and has been rejected by every United States court to have considered it."