RIAA demonstrates collegiate anti-piracy efforts

In a demonstration to The Chronicle, the music industry group discloses it uses the same software client as file sharers to catch pirates.

No university is singled out above another, and LimeWire is used as RIAA's software of choice. The process begins with a search on the service for song titles owned by its member organizations.

From there, once a track is located, the group uses the features of the software to determine who is sharing it. LimeWire will provide a list of files available for download from the host, as well as his or her IP address.

Once this information is obtained, RIAA then determines the ISP with that particular IP using Media Sentry, and then which of those file sharers are located on college and university networks.

This seems time consuming, but with Media Sentry the process is automated, including notification of the RIAA of the IPs with infringing files.

RIAA will first send a DMCA notice to the the university asking for removal of the file, and rarely will download the file themselves unless human intervention is required in order to confirm the file is indeed the copyrighted song in question.

The official -- who refused to be identified in the Chronicle's story out of fear of receiving hate mail -- said that RIAA typically will only send out pre-litigation settlement letters to the people in more serious cases. Unlike the above investigation, these files are always downloaded to verify their content for legal purposes.

While the group cannot tell who is downloading the songs, they can uncover who is sharing them. The process also differs from that of commercial ISP's, where the investigation is completely manual.

The official said that ISP's are already aware of the piracy problem, so there is no need for such a system at that level. However, colleges are apparently still coming to terms with the problem if RIAA is to be believed.

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