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The Oregon attorney general's office is investigating the Recording Industry Association of America's practices regarding 17 University of Oregon students accused of copyright infringement. While the AG isn't minimizing the seriousness of copyright violations, his office has submitted a brief questioning the data mining tactics and subpoena practices employed by the RIAA.
The AG filed a motion stating that the university was unable to provide details on user-to-IP address mapping for the dates in question for most of the IP addresses under scrutiny by the RIAA. The office is pushing to essentially cross-investigate RIAA representatives to ascertain the legality of its investigative practices--a discovery request that could be very expensive for the RIAA to respond to. The AG's motion asked the court to allow the university to determine whether the RIAA does, in fact, possess no additional information with which to identify the 17 John Does, and seeks to quash the plaintiff's subpoena as "overboard and burdensome." The office further suggested that the RIAA may be spying on students who use the university's computer system and accessing much more than IP addresses.
All this boils down to a substantial challenge to the RIAA and member labels at the same time that the RIAA is supporting the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007. The gist of this imaginatively named pending legislation is that schools would need to draft plans for technology to limit and/or prevent P2P activities on their networks. The current version of the bill has no penalty provisions for noncompliance, but it's still viewed by many user advocacy groups as a first step toward more restrictive policies.