Mass communications sophomore Stephanie was notified she had been targeted by the RIAA in July. She has since decided to settle out of court. ORACLE PHOTO/JOSE LOPEZ JR.
Before she moved to campus, Stephanie had never used the file-sharing software Limewire.
Now the mass communications sophomore faces a $209,400 lawsuit for using the technology to share copyrighted materials on the USF network.
“They got me for 419 songs,” said Stephanie, who spoke with the Oracle on the condition her last name be withheld. “My music was on a shared folder. I don’t even think I had that many songs …When I got to college one of my friends installed (Limewire) for me.”
Stephanie said she didn’t realize her computer was sharing the music while she left it unattended. Targeting her while other students around her had much larger libraries was unfair, she said.
“There are so many people that use Limewire,” Stephanie said. “I was so unlucky that I got caught. I was shocked; I had a feeling of utter dismay,” she said.
A letter in July from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in July detailing the suit blindsided her, she said.
The lawsuit was one of thousands of letters sent to college students in RIAA’s high-profile campaign to reduce illegal trafficking of copyrighted materials on university networks across the nation.
To date, USF has received 81 pre-litigation letters as part of the campaign, ranking it third among national universities.
These letters, forwarded to network users accused of illegal file sharing, offer students the option of settling out of court for a reduced price.
Stephanie said she deleted the pre-litigation letter, whose source was unfamiliar to her, without ever reading it.
She never knew she was the target of the suit until her parents got a letter at their Hobe Sound home.
Her parents received a second letter Aug. 24, the same day Stephanie joined an on-campus sorority.
“My Mom was not too happy, especially since I joined a sorority the same day the letter came in the mail,” she said.
Originally the family planned to fight the litigation in court, but was daunted by the potential of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars if RIAA won the legal battle.
They plan to settle out of court for around $4,000, Stephanie said.
Since the suit, a friend has deleted Limewire and any songs that may have been illegally downloaded from her computer, Stephanie said.
She now lives off-campus, but warns all freshmen to learn from her mistake.
“Don’t download music if you’re on campus, that’s for sure,” she said.
Joshua Neiderer can be reached at (813) 974-5190 or oracleeditor