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RIAA cashes in on file-swapping students

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The RIAA has tacked on $59,500 to the amount four college students must pay in addition to their student loans.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) settled on this amount as part of a lawsuit it filed aginst the students last month. The music-label backed organization could have sought as much as $100 million from the students but let them off with individual fines ranging from $12,000 for one student, $15,000 for two and $17,500 for the last. The kids can stack these payments on top of their college loans, as the deal calls for them to make an installment on the lump sum each year from 2003 to 2006.

The father of Jesse Jordan - a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who was fined by the RIAA - expressed his displeasure over the agreement to the AP .

"The furthest thing from his mind is trying to steal copyrights," Andy Jordan told the AP. "That's Jesse's life savings, how small is that? How much value is there to trashing his name ... in every city, in every country on the planet?"

Examples

The RIAA is, of course, looking to make examples out of our youngsters.

Unlike companies such as Napster, Grokster or StreamCast, the college students were not running large scale P2P networks. Instead, they appear to have just been providing a search mechanism that looked across shared folders on their school networks. The "ease of use" features in Windows XP to see files on a network made it relatively simple for the students to pull this off. The RIAA called them mini-Napsters, but the technology resembles something akin to Google more than anything else, and Google may be next.

The RIAA, however, doesn't like creative types making it easier for college students to funnel files across high speed university connections. Even though some students may be sharing photos or notes, the money the Pigopolists claim to be losing to file trading outweighs the need to take advantage of useful technology.

Thankfully, there are some judges out there who have challenged the RIAA's ability to attack innovation.

The four students were forced to say they will not pirate copyrighted music on purpose and will shut down their search services. They did not admit guilt.

"I don't believe that I did anything wrong," said 18-year-old Daniel Peng, a student at Princeton, in a statement.

On a side note, Morpheus 3.0 was released today.®

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