UC Davis gets fresh batch of RIAA pre-lawsuit letters

UC Davis has received another 20 pre-litigation letters from the Recording Industry Association of America as part of the trade group's continuing fight against illegal file-sharing of music among college students.

The association sent 569 letters to 26 colleges and universities last week, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports. That's one of the largest monthly batches since the RIAA began its current campaign in February 2007.

UC Davis received several dozen notices during 2007. The campus forwards the notices to the registered user of the computer address where the RIAA says the copyright violation occurred. The RIAA offers to settle for a payment, and can file a subpoena to learn the name of the user if that person refuses the offer. That sets up the RIAA to sue the owner for damages.

Campus Intellectual Property Officer Jan Carmikle said she received the latest notices on the afternoon of Friday, April 11. Usually she gets advance warning, but this time she did not.

"This bunch was not preceded by preservation-of-evidence notices, meaning I don't already know to whom to send them." Once she learns the users' names, she will forward the notices electronically when possible, and also by conventional mail. The recipients will have 20 days to respond, starting April 11.

"There are active legal challenges to the RIAA's court filings as to whether the filings are sufficient," Carmikle continued. "Unfortunately, there are no consistent court holdings yet, and none [of the court decisions] is in our federal district and therefore binding here.

"In the meantime we will still treat these as private matters between the RIAA and the individuals, trying not to compromise the individua l's options," she said, "and give out personal information only in response to legally valid subpoenas."

The Chronicle says the University of Texas, Austin, received the most notices this time, with 75. The RIAA sent notices to three University of California campuses: Davis received 20, Santa Barbara got 18, and Merced was sent eight.