Capitulating to music industry demands, the University of Washington has announced that it will now actively enforce laws against illegal file-sharing on campus, reports the News Tribune.
Dumping its previous policy of only turning over student information to the RIAA if served with a warrant, UW is now ready and willing to track students down and serve them with legal papers.
The university will now forward to students the industry's notices, which demand payments of $3,000 to $5,000. If the students don't cough up, the industry threatens to take them to court with no chance of future settlement.
UW has decided not to give up the students' names, however; they will simply forward the notices on. The alternative is for the industry to file a lawsuit against an unknown student and subpoena the university for the person's identity.
"This isn't a matter of the university cooperating with the recording industry," said Eric Godfrey, vice provost for student life at the UW Seattle campus. "We all concluded that to not pass these along to our students would be unacceptable and more costly to them."
Some students have expressed concern that the university's policy change is intentionally vague.
"There's a lack of details about it," Dockins said. "Is the policy retroactive? Is it something that will be enforced from this point on? There's really no information about it, and that's really, really awful," said incoming student body president Tyler Dockins.
Dockins said that many students are very casual about downloading, and some don't even know that it's illegal.
"A lot of them just offhandedly download a song and put it on their MP3 player, or even have a friend who downloads something on their computer," he said.