The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

RIAA still issuing subpoenas

Think paying 99 cents for a song is a lot? How about $750?

This is a reality for some UW-Eau Claire students, who have been busted by the Recording Industry Association of America.

“It’s been really hard to have to be the one to tell them they are facing this lawsuit,” Associate Dean of Student Development Jodi Thesing-Ritter said. Some students have had to drop out of school in order to pay for their legal fees, Thesing-Ritter said.

In the spring of 2007, the RIAA issued 26 subpoenas to Eau Claire students and Thesing-Ritter said many were referred to legal services on campus to help with negotiating with the Recording Industry. She also said that most settlements were around $3,000 because they were settled out of court.

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“The reality is that there are consequences to these actions,” Thesing-Ritter said. She hopes these students go and tell everyone they know about their story so others realize it could happen to them.

Junior Steph Nohr is familiar with this story.

“I feel like I’ve become an advocate to download legally,” she said. Nohr was one of the 26 students subpoenaed in spring 2007. She said she downloaded 300 songs in a two-month span, stopping in January 2007.

“I heard around campus that they (RIAA) targeted schools so I stopped,” Nohr said. She still got caught, about three months after she stopped illegally downloading, shortly after spring break of her freshman year.

Thesing-Ritter said when the RIAA catches students, the university informs them through a take-down e-mail notice. If they live on campus, their network access is taken away for 14 days.

Nohr wasn’t sure what to think of the e-mail.

“I thought, ‘Is this real? Is this just a threat?'” Nohr contacted Thesing-Ritter to better understand what was happening to her and Thesing-Ritter confirmed her fears.

“Everyone does it and I thought I wouldn’t be the one to get caught,” Nohr said. Most of Nohr’s friends downloaded thousands of songs, much more than she had.

Committee member for the Student Senate Information Technology Commission and junior Casey Driscoll said many students have already been targeted this semester.

“It seems the RIAA goes on rampages,” he said. “Already this semester, we’ve had more than we had all of last semester.”

Driscoll said he thinks students have become complacent with the possible risks that come from illegal downloading. He said people living off campus are at risk too, even though they’re not on the university network.

“No one can get away,” he said. “They monitor everything.”

Driscoll said he wishes students would get educated about the risks because those who aren’t aware are hit the hardest.

Thesing-Ritter said she doesn’t think students have become complacent, but rather they have never known the dangers of illegal downloading.

“They’ve never been told not to,” she said. “It’s just a part of the culture and now they’re being held accountable.”

Driscoll said there are several inexpensive alternatives to illegal downloading and the university provides students with the free program Ruckus. He also noted other programs such as iTunes, Pandora, Amazon and Microsoft. Hulu is another site that offers TV shows the day after they come out, Driscoll said, and they’re free but have some advertisements.

Thesing-Ritter said she thinks students should recognize the benefits of legal downloading.

“I think it’s so wonderful that Student Senate offers Ruckus,” she said. Thesing-Ritter thinks if a student isn’t paying for their music, they shouldn’t be doing it.

Nohr thinks it is a random thing to get busted since she knows most of her friends do it and she was the only one caught.

“It doesn’t matter how much you’ve downloaded or how long you’ve been downloading.”

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RIAA still issuing subpoenas