RIAA Drops a Bollock With Threatening Letter
'But Hey! That's OK', says Penn State
The RIAA has said sorry for sending a nasty letter to Penn State University. But it's apparently going to make it all better with a nice T-shirt and a CD.
In a May 12 story, CNET News writer Declan McCullagh said the RIAA sent a "stiff copyright warning" to Penn State's department of astronomy and astrophysics invoking the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and alleging that one of its ftp sites was, "unlawfully distributing songs by the musician Usher."
The letter demanded that the department "remove the site" and the infringing sound files, McCullagh said, continuing:
"But no such files existed on the server, which is used by faculty and graduate students to publish research and grant proposals. Matt Soccio, the department's system administrator, said that he searched the FTP server 'for files ending in mp3, wma, ogg, wav, mov, mpg, etc., and found nothing that would precipitate this complaint'.
"Except, that is, when Soccio realized two things. The department has on its faculty a professor emeritus named Peter Usher whose work on radio-selected quasars the FTP site hosted. The site also had a copy of an a cappella song performed by astronomers about the Swift gamma ray satellite, which Penn State helped to design.
"The combination of the word 'Usher' and the suffix '.mp3' had triggered the RIAA's automated copyright crawlers."
But if course, it wasn't the RIAA which was at fault. Rather, in an e-mail sent after a query from CNET News.com, the RIAA blamed a temporary employee for having the notice sent, McCullagh states, going on that by way of additional apology, the RIAA will send Peter Usher an Usher CD and T-shirt.
Penn State spokesman Tysen Kendig said Penn, "remains committed to working closely with the RIAA and other law enforcement entities" to take actions against the trading of copyrighted material, according to the CNET story.
By an amazing coincidence, Penn State president Graham Spanier, who testified before Congress in February about online piracy, is the co-chairman of a working group that includes the entertainment industry, adds McCullagh.
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