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TCU 360

The Skiff Orientation Edition: Welcome, Class of 28!
The Skiff Orientation Edition: Welcome, Class of '28!
By Georgie London, Staff Writer
Published May 13, 2024
Advice from your fellow Frogs, explore Fort Worth, pizza reviews and more. 

Consumers not to blame for illegal music downloads

The problem with illegal activity on a massive scale is that there is always the question of who to punish. If you punish the lawbreakers, they blame enablers for tempting them to commit crime.

If you punish enablers, they say they are just meeting a demand.

No, I’m not talking about drugs or prostitution. I’m talking about Internet piracy.

Last week, the Skiff published an article about the Record Industry Association of America cracking down on illegal file-sharing software users on college campuses across the United States.

Cary Sherman, RIAA president, was quoted as saying, “Frankly, we’ve found that students know that downloading from unauthorized P2P systems is illegal, but the chance of getting caught isn’t great enough to discourage them from doing it. By increasing the number of lawsuits, we’re letting them know that the risk of getting caught is greater. That’s also why we’re bringing more lawsuits on a single college campus.”

So the logic here is that because so many students download illegally, the RIAA is increasing the number of lawsuits as a deterrent.

The problem is that to have so many lawsuits going at one time means a lot of American tax dollars will be spent to sort out court costs, so, no matter who gets sued by the RIAA, we all pay.

It seems to me that there is a third way of dealing with Internet piracy: make software that blocks person-to-person sharing. Just like high schools around the country have fences meant to keep drug dealers from getting onto school grounds to tempt students with their wares, the RIAA could require all computers with Internet access have this added as a “patch” to the firewall to cut off P2P sites from bored college students.

Software already exists that limits sharing to local networks, and this would just be taking that a step further.

Of course, this step is rather extreme and could be detrimental to independent bands that depend on illegal downloaders to earn their global reputations. However, cutting downloaders off from P2P sites seems like it would be much easier. It would be much more of a deterrent to illegal downloading than trying to go after downloaders or enablers in court and would spend less American tax dollars.

The RIAA should invest in its ability to prevent users and enablers from meeting and stop suing college students who probably can’t afford the court fees or fines if they can’t afford a $15 compact disc.

Talia Sampson is a junior news-editorial journalism and international relations major from Moorpark, Calif. Her column appears Thursdays.

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