RIAA reveals how it tracks college file sharing

Music industry says it doesn't target any specific schools.

A painstaking examination of how the RIAA goes about its business hunting down file sharers on college campuses is available online.

The Chronicle of Higher Education visited the offices of the Recording Industry Association of America and got a demonstration.

The RIAA employee, who declined to give his or her name for fear of receiving hate mail, said the organization has hired online copyright enforcer MediaSentry to do most of the heavy lifting. MediaSentry writes scripts to automatically hunt for the names of copyright songs and locate the IP addresses of computers sharing files, and forwards the information to the RIAA.

If a university or college is involved, the RIAA sends a takedown notice to campus network administrators. The RIAA says it doesn't target specific schools. It's interesting to note that MediaSentry checks the hashes (identifying marks) on the song files to make sure they match the copyright song. If the marks don't match, the company uses software from Audible Magic to compare sound waves.

There aren't too many surprises about how the RIAA goes after serious offenders, but the story is worth reading.

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