MSU students slapped for illegal music sharing

Published 2:35 pm Monday, December 17, 2007

STARKVILLE (AP) — Fourteen Mississippi State University students will be getting “pre-litigation letters” this month from the Recording Industry Association of America for illegally sharing music files.

“The first wave of pre-litigation letters has been sent to MSU to pass on to those who had shared music, and Mississippi State University now has many individuals who have been caught by the RIAA and are being sued,” said MSU Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Bill Kibler, in Dec. 6 statement.

University Associate Dean of Students Thomas Bourgeois said students will have until Jan. 5, 2008, to respond to the letters.

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“We are not involved in that decision so we have no way of knowing what course of action they decided to take. We simply passed on the letters to the students,” Bourgeois said.

Students, faculty or staff accused of illegally sharing files are responsible for their own legal expenses, university officials said.

Students can expect to pay fines of about $750 per file shared, with the average total costs coming to about $3,000 to $5,000.

Kibler said if the cases proceed to court, the costs can rise to $50,000 per song.

“The pre-settlement averages are based on what we have gathered from other universities who have told us what their students paid to settle early,” Bourgeois said.

University officials say they warn students about the illegal nature of file-sharing.

“This activity is stated as a prohibited action in our university computer policies,” Bourgeois said. “Our office also has sent out campus wide e-mail to students warning them of the dangers of this type of activity. I also talk to parents and students at our summer orientation programs to warn them of these type of activities.”