I may or may not have slipped into a little bit of a situaton, but I think I may be over-worrying about it. I had a perfectly normal day of classes today. As I'm walking back, the mail room calls me and says I have to sign for a "special delivery." After doing so, I open up the special envelope. To my shock, I see the letter from the University is letting me know I could be SUED for copyright infringement of music.
Also inthe envelope was some letter from the attorney who could sue me, just explaining the situation and the possible fines.
I figured out I have LimeWire on my laptop, and whoever was on the lookout saw this. I have never used LimeWire at school (I'm not a moron), but apparently it's still active even though I hit the little red X in the middle of the summer. The LimeWire was installed by a fellow family member and my sibling and I both used it solely to put some songs into our music players (as opposed to always having to pay $.99 for ITunes every single time).
I called the University Technology Office, asking what this even means (I saw "law suit" in the letter and was stumped). The guy who I was forwarded to explained what LimeWire does (I had no idea LimeWire was even on, but apparently it shares the music files even when I think it's off). Whoever wants to sue me here believes I voluntarily
shared these files, and wants an undisclosed amount of money - if I was to call them within 20 business days it could be settled...if I don't call, there is a chance they could sue (and they claim in court they could sue $750 per song or something like that - I think they "caught me" sharing 98 audio files and only mentioned 10 on "Exhibit A", but a settlement would be a much smaller fine). The guy at my school seemed to be a bit of a prick though ("oh, you're in for a REAL education now!" - he thought I was doing this all on purpose, with blatant disregard of the law
). BTW this is just everything I could determine from the letter and what this guy told me.
So that's what I got to learn before my workout today.
I then contacted my dad, who is a lawyer, and tried to translate as much as the lawyer jargon that I could (I mailed him all these letters today). He thinks the RIAA send this out to thousands of people, many of whom are college students, and it is more of a "scare tactic" than anything else - I mean, the attorney's letter said "Dear Sir or Madam". He also told me he'll write to the law office that is heading up the "suing" and will let them know I wasn't even the one who installed LimeWire onto my laptop, it was one of the central computers the family used in the house over the summer, and I am retarded when it comes to knowing what these types of programs actually do. I would NEVER voluntarily commit copyright infringement, and this all took me by surprise (this is all true as well). the University letter said the school could
take action against me if need be, but I don't think that will happen. I'm not worried about that anyway, since I would explain I had absolutely no idea what was going on, and I can't see the school severely punishing someone who wasn't trying to break the law at all.
If anyone here is practicing law or is a lawyer...what do you make of this? Obviously I had no idea what was going on here, and I get slapped with all this. My parents told me to let them take care of it, as my dad's a lawyer and could probably figure this all out. I'm just afraid that if the people suing decide to pursue my individual case (there seem to be many many small cases like this, but I'm not 100% sure), my parents could be forking over a decent amount of money for something none of us knew was occuring, or even could occur (the LimeWire part).
I doubt this will even reach the lawsuit phase, since I'm not going to court (I got major exams and finals coming up).
My parents don't want me to worry about this at all (just focus on school, etc. and they will take care of it), but I don't want to see a hefty fine that they would need to pay either.