Students Discuss Music Downloading The Recording Industry Association of America is hoping its efforts to stop music-file sharing will change the way college students swap songs. Two students discuss the realities of music swapping on campus.
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Students Discuss Music Downloading

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Students Discuss Music Downloading

Students Discuss Music Downloading

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Earlier, I talked with two students at USC here in Los Angeles. One of them, Nicole Williams, is a senior. She's general manager of USC's student radio station, that's KSCR. And I asked her if she was offered this settlement deal, would she take it?

Ms. NICOLE WILLIAMS (Student, University of Southern California): I don't think that I would actually take the settlement because I've read a little bit about the court cases that they've had before and it's really hard for them to even prove who did the downloading. I especially think in a college setting like when I was living in the dorms, I wasn't the only person with access to my computer by a long shot. So it really doesn't seem to me like it's a case that would hold up so well in court.

CHADWICK: Now to Richard Mazlan(ph). He's also a student at the University of Southern California.

Richard, if the Recording Industry of America offered you this deal, would you take it?

Mr. RICHARD MAZLAN (Student, University of Southern California): I would probably have to, just to avoid a longer drawn out process which I don't have the means to deal with on my own.

CHADWICK: And you actually might be on their list because you already got a cease and desist order from the university last year because you were using so much bandwidth. I understand you say you really were not downloading that much. This is a kind of an aberration that comes from leaving your computer on in a particular mode overnight. But you got blamed for it, anyway.

Mr. MASLAND: I strongly doubt that I was on any kind of industry radar, just because the volumes that I was downloading were so, so small. It was really an occasional song or two a week, but it was a scare nonetheless when the school said, look, we know what you're doing and we've been contacted by the industry and we advise you to stop.

CHADWICK: Did you stop?

Mr. MASLAND: Yeah, I guess I did stop because of the, because of the scare.

CHADWICK: Nicole Williams, if they said to you we have your email address, it was downloaded to your computer, we want to make an example of people like you, so we'll settle for, say, $1500, wouldn't you take that?

Ms. WILLIAMS: I don't have $1500 to do anything, let alone to give to the RIAA for something this sort of frivolous.

CHADWICK: It doesn't seem frivolous to them though. I've looked at their figures on CD sales over the last year, and you know, they are down. Now it's true, their figures for digital sales are hugely up, but there's a lot of money on - in CDs that they think they're not getting.

Ms. WILLIAMS: Right. And I mean I understand that their sales are down, but I kind of look at it as the fault of the industry. Because when this whole digital downloading option was coming out, instead of sort of jumping on the bandwagon with it and taking the right steps to make it very feasible, easy, and fair for the consumer to download music and pay for it and pay a price that the consumer believes to be reasonable, they just sort of took this authoritarian stance. So really the digital revolution just sort of took off without them and they missed it.

CHADWICK: You're a political science major, but you're minoring in music?


CHADWICK: Would it be possible for you to do something like go into the recording industry as a career after you graduate in a couple of months?

Ms. WILLIAMS: Maybe not recording. Maybe live music.

CHADWICK: Well, what if you were in live music and were selling your performances and then people were giving them away and, and you didn't get the revenue for that?

Ms. WILLIAMS: I think that there are things that you can do about it to curb it, but I don't think that suing a bunch of college students is necessarily the way to go, because it's a really bad PR move and it's just isolating an entire generation of people who theoretically will be buying music for the rest of their lives.

CHADWICK: I bet that the last thing they want to do is actually sue a bunch of college students, except that they say these are the people who are doing it.

Ms. WILLIAMS: I really feel that if it was easier and if you could download at a price that's more reasonable than the download services that are out there right now, that people would do it.

CHADWICK: So if you actually did get one of these letters from RIAA, your response would be, sorry, no settlement, go ahead and prove it in court if you can.

Ms. WILLIAMS: Exactly.

CHADWICK: Nicole Williams, and we also heard from Richard Masland, both students at the University of Southern California. The school has been served with notice by the Recording Industry Association of America that it is going after students on campus for illegal downloading.

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