TorrentFreak’s Ben Jones reports that UC Santa Cruz has decided to fight the RIAA’s lawsuits aimed at their students by throwing a wrench in their methods:
Santa Cruz (UCSC) has put a spanner in the procedural works of the RIAA litigation machine. As explained best in the article published a few months ago by RIAA ‘nemesis’ Ray Beckerman, the John Doe lawsuits are often just a legal ploy to get names and addresses, prior to starting a new campaign, and pre-litigation settlement.
However, UCSC has successfully argued that under the law – specifically the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) – there are restrictions on the conditions for releasing student’s personal details, even in cases where there is a court subpoena. In this case (UMG Recordings v Doe), the court has ruled that the subpoena must have a ‘reply by’ date that is long enough to allow the university to notify the target of the subpoena, and their parents. This can give them the chance to get legal advice which can put them in a stronger position with the RIAA than getting a letter/demand out of the blue.
A new use for FERPA? A law that is certainly open for interpretation, and one which very well may serve to truly protect students and foster sharing, rather than being used as a blanket excuse to prevent a cross campus conversation using blogs, wikis, and their ilk. I like the new uses for what is often a wet blanket.