UCA received the second most warnings about music piracy from the recording industry last year, according to an AP report yesterday
. Ohio State University topped the list
with 2,336 notices, followed by UCA with 1,811.
According to UCA's general counsel Tom Courtway, those notices can't be tied to individual students. IP addresses, the unique numbers assigned to any device connecting to the internet, shift randomly every time a new on-campus user logs-in to UCA's network. In piracy lawsuits, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade group that represents the record industry, tries to connect IP addresses to individuals, which for your average at home user, isn't usually that hard.
Last year, a big group of labels filed suit against 27 John Doe's with UCA IP addresses in US District Court. All the copyrighted songs are included in the suit and, damn, who knew the enduring appeal of Alabama? Of course, because of the way UCA's network functions, the suit never went anywhere.
Across the country, other universities without randomly generated IPs, have gone to bat with the RIAA for its students, notably at the University of Oregon
, where the Oregon state Attorney General has even gotten into the act, questioning RIAA's information gathering techniques.
Big Brother could be raining on everyone's parade pretty soon, though. The College Opportunity and Affordability Act
, which includes a provision that would force universities to install network filtering of downloading services or face the loss of federal funding, passed easily in the House in February and should be up for vote in the Senate soon.
For now, Courtway says, "We're complying with the law. We're merely a conduit provider. So until Congress mandates that we have to do something or the courts make some sort of definitive ruling it's sort of in flux."