MP3s Taiwan students targetted

Mark Munsterhjelm gustav88 at
Wed Apr 18 20:04:50 MDT 2001


In Taiwan some university students have been the target of police
operations against exchanging of MP3. The government wants to do some
good tricks for US industry's IPR watchdogs so there have been lots of
news reports in the press on these "get tough" measures against a bunch
of university students.

Mark Munsterhjelm
Sanchung, Taiwan
e-mail: gustav88 at

Music fans sing the blues after campus

FILE SWAPPING: A chorus of students voiced dismay at being
targeted by the music industry when those who profit from music
piracy remain safely in business
By Lin Mei-chun

College students nationwide expressed outrage yesterday at what
they perceive are heavy-handed police tactics in dealing with
computer file-swapping.

"It is horrific that the police can just casually come in to search the
dorms. It reminds me of the White Terror," said Louisa Liu (¼B¼z¥­),
a graduate student at National Taiwan University (NTU).

Liu's comments sum up the outrage felt by many students across
the nation over last week's search by police of university dorm
rooms, during which computers allegedly containing unlawfully
downloaded music files were seized.

               "The search has created tremendous
               apprehension at school, because it is so common
               for students to use the free services [on the
               Internet]," said Shen Che-chou (¨H­õ¦{), an
               electronic engineering graduate student at NTU.
               "Students feel like a bird frightened by the bow
               (Åå¤}¤§³¾) right now."

               Acting on an anonymous tip, officials from the
               Tainan District Prosecutors' Office led police in a
               search of a dormitory at National Chengkung
               University on April 11. They confiscated 14
               computers that allegedly contained illegally
               downloaded MP3 music files.

               "There was no basis in law for the seizure of those
               computers since it remains an open question
whether or not it is illegal to download MP3 music files," Shen said.

Echoing Shen's opinion, Liu told the Taipei Times that what worried
the students was that their reputations would be ruined if they were

"If those students get sued, it will leave them with a bad record,"
she said, adding that police had chosen students simply because
they were an easier target than businessmen selling pirated CDs.

"The most severe infringements of copyright are not caused by
students downloading MP3 music files, because [the students] don't
make a profit on them. It is the merchants selling pirated CDs at
night markets and CD stores that should be punished first," she

Wu Chi-lin (§d¿nÀM), the former chairman of NTU's students' union,
said although students were aware of the possible legal penalties,
they were forced to download music files because of the
unreasonably high cost of CDs.

"Think about the difference in pricing between CDs and books. It
costs around NT$350 to buy a CD, which probably takes a few
weeks to produce. But many books, which might represent a
lifetime's work, are cheaper than a CD," he said, calling on music
companies to re-consider their pricing policies.

Following the Ministry of Education's earlier promise to defend
students' rights, Vice Minister of Education Fan Sun-lu (­S´Sºñ)
yesterday said that during a meeting between officials of the
ministry and representatives of the International Federation of the
Phonographic Industry (IFPI) Monday evening, the organization had
softened its stance on the case.

"[IFPI officials] said there was room for discussion about the
students' liability for downloading the programs due to a lack of
clear legal regulations. But they said they hoped the government
would seize the opportunity to demonstrate its determination to
protect copyrights with more concrete measures," she said.

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