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RIAA Tactics Reprehensible

The Recording Industry Association of America continues to send “pre-litigation settlement letters” to college students throughout our country.

Now, I don’t want to defend downloading copyrighted materials. Ultimately, doing that is stealing. Other people put their professional time and energy into the creation of those materials to make money. If I take without paying what they are selling, I am stealing. I think that was from lesson one from kindergarten. So I don’t want to debate that.

But the tactics of the RIAA are totally reprehensible. The RIAA makes a conscious effort to bypass our most basic legal idea: trial by argument. They target those who cannot defend themselves — students who cannot pay attorney fees — and demand money from them, at the mere threat of real litigation. They systematically avoid the courtroom, that place which generations of our ancestors have fought and died for, where guilt and innocence is determined, and where our rights are upheld. The RIAA is doing its part to bring back the Dark Ages.

I do believe that those who steal music online are in the wrong. But first we must protect our legal system from abuse, especially from wealthy and powerful corporations like the RIAA.

In the end, the RIAA turns out be little more than a high-tech thug. The street thug puts a gun in your back and takes your wallet, but the RIAA puts a “pre-settlement litigation letter” in your face and then takes your wallet.

Benjamin T. Switala ’09