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University of Kansas Will Not Forward RIAA Letters 126

Bonewalker writes "Looks like the University of Kansas may not be as pro-RIAA (or anti-student) as initially assumed last week from our recent discussion. From the Chronicle article: 'Kansas officials told the student newspaper that they will not heed the recording industry's request to pass pre-litigation notices on to 14 students accused of music piracy. Many institutions have forwarded the letters -- which offer students a chance to settle file-sharing claims out of court at discounted rates -- but some have declined to do so, citing concerns over students' privacy.' Of course, this doesn't make that 'one-strike' policy any less flawed, but it shows that they aren't simply throwing their students under the RIAA bus, as one poster put it."
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University of Kansas Will Not Forward RIAA Letters

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  • Makes sense (Score:5, Funny)

    by niceone ( 992278 ) * on Friday July 27, 2007 @02:46PM (#20014465) Journal
    Well, sure they won't. They're kicking the students out after one strike, so what's the point in forwarding a letter to someone who's no longer there!

    I'm JOKING... I think.
    • They're only cutting off the Net access. Not much difference though...
      • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Rolgar ( 556636 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @03:06PM (#20014747)
        Well, this protects the university from litigation. If they cutoff only those users they get notices on, then they have a perfectly valid justification for shutting them off. These users are locked into student housing for the remainder of the semester, but they will know what risk they are taking if they P2P in the future, and will have to live with the consequences, and schools don't include a "legal protection from RIAA/MPAA fee" in the list of fees students are forced to pay. I don't get the anger over this issue, and I'm more disposed to hate KU than anybody.

        If students don't want to live with this policy, they can move off campus, and get AT&T or Cox broadband services. Sure it costs a LOT more to live off campus in Lawrence, but, if you want to do things like distribute other people's music, that is a choice you have to make. Of course, with the money you save by living on campus, you could buy the media you want and use your computer for classwork instead.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by zCyl ( 14362 )

          If they cutoff only those users they get notices on, then they have a perfectly valid justification for shutting them off.

          Sounds like an easy college prank to play on unsuspecting people.

          (That's the problem with presumption of guilt upon accusation.)
          • I did this once where I worked. It was a large multi-national corporation and had the standard official internet usage policies and such.

            We were fiddling around and discovered some kind of netware broadcast tool that would pop up a message box on someones machine by IP address. So, we figured out someone's IP we wanted to prank and popped up a very official looking network message. It said something like "excessive non-work related internet usage, eliminate non-work traffic immediately" or something l
        • What BS. The RIAA/MPAA evidence is very flawed. The only reason they get people to pay is that it is prohibitively expensive to fight this. This is a guilt until proven innocent regime. This is an abuse of the legal system.
          • by cdrguru ( 88047 )
            The real question is if the RIAA has ever actually filed a lawsuit and won. So far, all the information I've seen says they have never, ever won a lawsuit only convinced some people to settle without a trial.

            If that is correct, then you are most certainly justified in your opinion.

            I suspect they have won far more than they have lost and are on-target 99% of the time. For various reasons such wins are never reported. They aren't "newsworthy" in the current sense of the word. If this is the case, then thi
        • by evanbd ( 210358 )

          Except that the RIAA have a history of sending out mistaken letters, and using legal threats as extortion. If the RIAA truly did their research, and only sent out letters to those who had actually been infringing their copyrights, you might have more of a point.

          Also on the list of fees students don't have to pay is an "RIAA legwork" fee for having the school figure out which student to forward the letter on to.

        • by Afecks ( 899057 )

          you could buy the media you want
          I have no problem buying it once. It's the hassle of buying it over and over again that I don't like.
    • by Crittias ( 712785 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @04:41PM (#20016057)
      As a faculty member at University of Kansas, I had the opportunity to talk to someone involved in the one-strike decision. Here's how he described the process of reaching their decision, paraphrased by me: Originally, KU adopted a three-strikes policy, and a few years ago, it seemed effective, as some students, when confronted with their first or second strike, pleaded to misunderstanding the policies of ResNet regarding filesharing. Basically, the three strikes allowed for learning to occur. Recently, however, the attitude of students when they received their first or second strike was, "eh." Students were aware of the policy, and they were simply ignoring it because they knew they had two "get out of jail free" cards in their pocket. Because no learning seemed to be occurring when implementing a first or second strike, the school decided such warnings were ineffective, and thus the one-strike-and-you're-out policy we have now. I'm not arguing for or against the new policy, but I thought folks would find the rationale KU used to reach their decision interesting.
  • G.O.D. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Joebert ( 946227 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @02:48PM (#20014489) Homepage
    The RIAA could start a new branch, the Global Oversight Department, to oversee this stuff.
    They'd probably get a better response from places like Kansas with that branch.
    • Re:G.O.D. (Score:5, Funny)

      by BrianGKUAC ( 919321 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @03:13PM (#20014841)
      While that was quite funny, I live in town and work at the University. To outsiders, it can be hard to differentiate, but it has been said that Lawrence, Kansas, is 27 square miles of open and progressive thinking surrounded by Kansas.
      • True! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tacokill ( 531275 )
        We used to call it "The Berkley of the Midwest" back when I was there.

        Let's not forget that KU was where the student union was burnt down and classes were called early back during the Vietnam war. It was serious stuff.
    • personally i think it's time the government retired ECHELON and implimented a Privacy Analysis of Network Ofuscation of Protocol Transaction Infrastructure for Classified Observation of the Nation.

      ugh. that was my worst backronym ever.
  • In loco parentis (Score:3, Insightful)

    by athloi ( 1075845 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @02:51PM (#20014545) Homepage Journal
    I'm glad they decided to stand up for their students. College is (like it or not) partially a parent-replacement, and a good parent tries to discipline their kids before handing them over to the legal system for pirating a few bucks worth of thoughtless major label tunes. I am much more likely to send my kid to University of Kansas now!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Nos. ( 179609 )
      I don't think I quite agree with what you're saying, but I do agree with the actions being taken. The university is no position do discipline the students as you suggest. The university is doing what any organization should, protect its members' privacy.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by reddburn ( 1109121 )
        But it is in a position to cut off their internet connection if they're using the university network for activity that puts the school in danger of lawsuit. Ask some random students if that is punishment and see what they say.
      • You're right. Universities are not supposed to be in a position where they need to discipline students.

        They are, however, forced there by parents. I'm an RA at an off-campus housing project. We just finished sealing the parking lots and driveways, and I can guarantee to you that on the night of move-in day, I will be picking at least one 18 year old kid off the pavement that he has just stained with his blood and vomit. I'll have to key-in to at least one bedroom to return a beligerent, drunk teenager to hi
    • College students (except for the rare 17-year-old) are adults, and we should never forget this. A college has no business filling any portion of a parent's role, period.
      • In fact, as I was going through college in the late '90s, my college was having a hard time rebuffing increasing numbers of "concerned parents" who were attempting to parent remotely through the college faculty and staff.

        It's what happens to parents in a country where it's acceptable to say, break into fisticuffs over your kid's [sports, academics, whatev]

        And we wonder why there are so many 30+ year old people living with non-dependent parents. They never have a chance to grow up and consequently don't wan
    • > In loco parentis

      By your use of this term, you don't know what it means. College students are almost all over 18 and therefore not minors; saying a university is "in loco parentis" with respect to them is nonsensical.
      • It's probably for the best that the law generally recognizes age, rather than maturity. Otherwise, we'd expect to let folks off the hook their whole lives, just because they insist on maintaining a Peter Pan existence :)
    • I'm glad they decided to stand up for their students.

      so instead of a "head's up" from the school the students get a notice of pending legal action and less time to negotiate a settlement or prepare a defense.

      a good parent tries to discipline their kids before handing them over to the legal system for pirating a few bucks worth of thoughtless major label tunes.

      this argument doesn't fly with a judge or a jury when your playlist looks stronger than the Clear Channel outlets in New York, Chicago and Dallas

  • by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @02:52PM (#20014567)
    "letters -- which offer students a chance to settle file-sharing claims out of court at discounted rates"

    Amazing, the RIAA is now in the business of offering discounted lawsuit settlements. "Our lowest offer ever! Settle for only $999, no evidence scrutinized! Limited time so act now!"
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
      But SCO only charge $699! That's $300 cheaper! The RIAA are clearly a price-fixing cartel if they can get away with charging $300 above the market rate for extortion.
  • by bensafrickingenius ( 828123 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @02:52PM (#20014575)
    (I'm a home user, not a student) from HBO because they caught me uploading The Sopranos. Well, actually, I was downloading it, but using bittorrent so i was of course also uploading. Anyway, I was glad to see it was just a cease and desist kind of thing and not a settlement offer. I've been a little more careful since throwing away that pair of underwear, I must confess.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Anyway, I was glad to see it was just a cease and desist kind of thing and not a settlement offer. I've been a little more careful since throwing away that pair of underwear, I must confess.

      They wrote a "cease and desist" letter on a pair of underwear? Wow! They'd get a better compliance if they write it on a bra - IMHO.

    • I got one of those a few years back. My friend had downloaded, at his home, a game demo. The demo was not what it was labeled to be though, and it was actually marked as UT2K3, which it wasn't. When he came over, he told me about the demo, and tried to download it using the same method, clicking on the UT2K3 file in Kazaa. Turned out to really be UT2K3, and I got a C&D email. So I complied, slapped my friend for the mess, and have never downloaded a game since.

      I'd much prefer a 'hey... we saw that!'
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AndersOSU ( 873247 )
      Comcast forwarded me a letter from NBC (via email no less) for sharing The Black Donnellys. I freaked out a little, but then reread the letter and it was a C&D, not a settlement offer.

      So I've complied and haven't downloaded any more TV shows.

      Incidentally I also never watched the Black Donnellys again (it wasn't on at a great time) and I think it's since been canceled.

    • I got a C&D from NBC for downloading a couple of episodes of Heroes, using Optonline. Yeah, I could have watched it at their site, but I wanted to be able to put it on my PSP and watch it on the train to/from work. The only effect it's had on my d/l habits is to not d/l anything that is produced or distributed by NBC, which isn't really that much of a loss.
      • by JazzLad ( 935151 )
        Does no one use usenet anymore? Sure it's $10-25/mo, but downloading is fairly anonymous ...
        • Actually usenet isn't anonymous at all. It's very difficult to identify downloaders, but much easier to identify uploaders. This is why people have drifted away from it. That, and the fact that most usenet servers have lousy retention, no binary groups, or monthly download limits. Plus most people I know have no idea what usenet actually is. (Nor that it can be used to download files.)
  • Which only benefits the RIAA/MPAA. Which doesn't benefit the American middle-class, lower-class, or anyone outside of America. I know how this will all turn out though, just as smokers how nice it is that the rest of America is turning on their habit, sure they never thought that that would happen (not the best example though).
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @03:18PM (#20014921) Homepage
    Are these sent by certified mail? Does the RIAA need proof of delivery to pursue their lawsuit successfully? Or can they just go ahead and sue, without the student getting any warning?

    All the article says is that "The University will not, however, forward students the RIAA pre-litigation letter, which gives them the opportunity to settle out of court."

    How does this help the student? That's a genuine question, not a rhetorical question. Anyone know the answer?

    • Honestly, I think it's going to help the RIAA by showing that they need more help from the powers that be to enforce what the law. I'm seriously thinking this could land some of the students in a lot more trouble then the university thinks.
    • by AusIV ( 950840 )
      Until the University gives the RIAA a name, all the RIAA has is an IP. I'd think the worst they could do is sue the school for the names of students associated with an IP address, then they'd have to send letters of notification to the students.
    • by babyrat ( 314371 )
      The RIAA needs to tell the students nothing before sueing them. The only problem is that they only have an IP Address (or perhaps MAC ID) not a student's name. Presumably the university has that address to name mapping thus can forward the letter addressed to the IP Address to the appropriate student.

      This letter has nothing to do with potential court case - you don't have to warn someone that you are going to sue them. As some have mentioned, it is akin to extortion - give us money or we'
  • Third Time (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Third time I've had to say this. Universities are NOT "bending over" for the RIAA. They are FORWARDING MAIL. They gave the RIAA no personal information and at least in Purdue's case said they would NOT give them that information unless there was a subpeona.

    Enough with this sensationalist "omg this university is in with the RIAA". If you ask me they are hurting their student population by not telling the students they have been targeted. That is all the other universities are doing. Telling them that t
  • I'm proud that finally KU has stood up to outside pressure and is protecting its students. Coincidentally, their Academic Computing Services department (university wide IS/IT) is being completely reorganized.

    Just a few days ago I was ripping into old KU for pandering to the MAFIAA, and now we've got this partial about-face. Makes me want to walk over to walk over to the chancellor's house and tell him that this was a good decision.
    • Here, here. As a KU Alumna who is now an employee, I am quite proud of Hemenway too!
    • by db32 ( 862117 )
      I'm a little confused I suppose, having not downloaded or purchased music in about 5 years...but why is it an issue? Chasing after grandmothers and kids and dead people I understand is totally fucked up...chasing after college students who in all likelyhood ARE indeed downloading music...not so much sympathy. I think the Universities that are sheltering people are just short of criminal themselves...because while downloading music isnt a criminal offense, interfering with the law is (assuming they ever go
      • by CompMD ( 522020 )
        The university's job first and foremost is to provide students with an education. Why should the universities use their own (usually limited) resources to do something that a private entity wants, which will detract from their ability to fulfill the goals of their mission, i.e. provide an education?

        Also, the universities are not interfering with the law, if provided with a subpoena for student information they have to comply. All this does is tell the RIAA stormtroopers that THEY need to comply with the l
        • by db32 ( 862117 )
 cannot take the "only provide education" path. If they are providing internet access of any sort then they are well beyond only providing an education, if they provide dorms, then they are well beyond only providing an education. If you are going to operate a network you need to take responsibility for it, not just toss it out and throw your hands up "we cant do anything about the downloaders and spam zombies, we have no resources" No sympathy...up the rates on internet access if you have to. T
  • by kinglink ( 195330 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @04:01PM (#20015507)
    After Michael (Al Pacino's character) goes into hiding, Tom Hagen(Robert Duvall) says to Kay (Diane Keaton): "If I accept that letter and you told a Court of Law I accepted it, they would interpret it as my having knowledge of his whereabouts. Just wait Kay, he'll contact you."

    Somehow I don't think that's far off.
  • by bennini ( 800479 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @04:08PM (#20015595) Homepage
    i posted this letter in the last story on /. regarding the RIAA but i did it a bit late (3 or 4 days after the story appeared on /.) so i dont think anyone got to read it.

    below ive appended the letter which i am sending to the RIAA.

    additionally, this recent story about the University of Kansas has inspired me to write letters to the other universities that have indeed forwarded the letters to the students -- regarding my decision to rule out all of them as places to do a PhD.

    i highly encourage all of you to send similar letters. its time people start doing something about this rather than just complaining about it on internet forums.


    Dear Sony BMG, Universal, EMI, Warner,

    I would like to inform you of my recent decision to stop purchasing music produced by your record labels.

    In the past, I was a strong supporter of the music industry, music artists and the Compact Disc technology. I regularly purchased CD albums for several reasons. First, I consider myself an audiophile and enjoy the quality of music offered by the Compact Disc format. Second, I collect music and have over 200 CDs. I often re-listen to an album many years after buying it. Third, I believe music artists should be rewarded for their hard work and skill. With respect to my favorite bands (Tool, the Cardigans and Garbage) I also believe it provides incentive for them to continue producing music. It was because of these three reasons that I generally opposed and condemned the idea of downloading music illegally. I considered myself to be, what many refer to as, the music industry's ideal customer.

    In the past few weeks, this all changed; and since your companies' prosperity in the music industry is entirely enabled by persons like myself, I would like to tell you why.

    I have grown tired of reading about the endless lawsuits and out-of-court settlement letters spewed from your companies' legal departments. I am a 25-year-old American student pursuing an MSc in Germany and find your methodology for dealing with students at American universities revolting and offensive. I also believe your companies' business model is flawed, rigid and destined to fail. Your inability to adapt to a high-quality digital distribution model (without DRM) will quickly undermine your revenue stream. There is no justification for a music CD to cost almost twice the price of a DVD movie; especially when one compares the production costs of the two.

    Today, when I walked into the local music store, I took a look at the price of a new CD release, considered buying it, then decided to go home and illegally download it instead. I will continue to act accordingly until the RIAA changes its attitude, business model and pricing scheme.

    This letter would not be justly sent without an offer to regain me as a customer. I therefore propose that you A) offer all music through iTunes DRM-free and with the option to download the files in a "lossless" format and B) reduce song prices to $0.50 per song with 50% of that going directly to the artist and the other 50% to be split at your discretion between the RIAA and Apple. Should you agree to said proposal, I will happily purchase your music again on a frequent basis and actively campaign for the RIAA amongst my social networks and on

    Benjamin P
    • by mantar ( 941076 )
      Do you really think these execs will take someone who listens to The Cardigans seriously?
      • by bennini ( 800479 )
        i think losing any customer matters. at least thats how any CEO with a brain should think.

        ive bought at least 200 CDs.
        lets average 1 CD at $15 (ive paid both more and less for many of them)
        minimum spent on CDs, 15 * 200 = $3000

        and considering ~$3000 is what the settlement letters are asking from most of the victims, id say the RIAA douche bags do indeed care about an amount as minimal as $3000. multiply that by the number of other disgruntled customers like myself...and u get a net sum on par with t
        • by mantar ( 941076 )
          Yeah, just messing with you :0)

          The unfortunate thing is that your letter will never reach their eyes. These guys have people working to filter what passes their way... with salaries in the six and seven figures, their time is too valuable to waste with small-timers like most of us here. Either it will end up in the round metal filing cabinet, or if someone actually reads it and notices your confession of piracy, it will end up being forwarded to their legal department. You'll know for sure if you get a
          • by bennini ( 800479 )

            The unfortunate thing is that your letter will never reach their eyes. These guys have people working to filter what passes their way... with salaries in the six and seven figures, their time is too valuable to waste with small-timers like most of us here.

            which is why i plan on sending copies directly to the CEOs or any other major entity in the organizations. how difficult can it be to find out some high-profile guys address?
            • Addresses are easy to find. Getting the letter to the actual CEO's eyes are whats difficult. That's what assistants are for, to filter out any letters like yours, and pass along the ones they deem "fit for the CEO". How many letters a day do you think a CEO receives?? Plenty I'm sure, most of them from nutjobs spouting off. (present company excluded)
            • You'd be better off sending it as a letter to the editor of a major news publication. Letters to CEOs are read by underlings or shredders. Widely distributed letters might get through.
    • How do we know you're not a goon from the RIAA sent to trick people into sending an admission of guilt?!?!!?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Wow, there are an amazing number of things wrong with your letter.

      1. Like many people on /. you seem to believe costs determine price. This is not the case. The justification is that people are willing to pay twice as much for a CD. Also, I tend to get more hours of enjoyment out of a CD than a movie (a good CD at least), because of the replayability.
      2. The RIAA doesn't get a percentage of iTunes sales, the labels do.
      3. While customers certainly have a right to insist on a price before purchasing, insisting o
  • Honestly i can't stand the fact that major universities, which are practically ran by their student population, wont even stand up for their students-- at least as far as privacy rights are concerned.
  • It's not enough to simply not pass on the letters. UK needs to fight the RIAA at the ex parte stage when the RIAA creates a phony case that:

    they have no intention of actually pursuing,

    citing non-applicable laws,

    with an illegal joinder of Doe Defendants,

    based on flimsy to non-existent real evidence,

    and no opposition to this farce,

    to get a judge to issue the required subpoena's that would force UK to turn over student identities to the Record Industry extortion machine. Only then will I feel tha

  • This supposes that KU can associate a specific IP number with a known machine. Unless practice has improved a lot, they can't -- the allocation of IP numbers was a total, decentralized mess for a number of years, with nothing even remotely resembling a central registry. In my department, the "IP registry" consisted of a piece of notebook paper taped to a file cabinet in a supply closet. The situation may have improved over the last six months -- I vaguely recall someone wandering around systematically recor

    • That. Is. Scary.

      On a separate note, why not DHCP? I've worked in labs that were zoos like that (and worse, there were traffic generators that could produce arbitrary packets [any: source/dest IP, MAC, any datagram, any length up to 32Kb]). We had two private ranges, one DHCP and one static, they were on the same subnet, but you could have the zoo on and dynamic on, as an example.

      • I'm not the grandparent, but my university has a similar system. They have a DHCP server of the open access machines, and everything else has a manually configured static IP. The reason for this is twofold:
        • Departments want to be able to assign addresses to their own machines, without having to wait for someone else to edit a DCHP configuration file.
        • The university has a flat network (yes, it's a bad idea, but it's been like that since the '70s, and no one knows where all the wires go anymore), so you ca
        • We've suggested various things over the years [we being assorted folks, faculty, programmers, lab directors, etc], had some excellent outside assessments that confirm everything is as messed up as we think, etc, and basically nothing ever happened. Never clear why, though it is widely suggested that the fact that authority our IT is split between librarians and wire-jockeys, with no one who has any formal training and experience in modern (post-1990) networking anywhere in a position where they can enforce
          • I personally don't think that having to supply my identity to get an IP is an improvement at all... The current situation where I am is, I just plug a cable into a wall and turn on DHCP. I can upload music with impunity, and there's no way for anyone to identify me. If someone is messing up the network, the admin can still block MAC addresses. However, if we start getting letters from the RIAA, they're going to be SOL as far as trying to sue anyone.
      • Truly scary. But they passed out ranges of IP numbers like candy, so for a while (even today) there were lots of vacant ones, so it worked, sort of. Apparently there was some sort of animosity almost to the level of a blood feud between network services, who put in the wires, and the folks that managed (if that's the right word...) the software side, plus some really weird pricing situations. We still don't have wireless on most of the campus, for example, because the network guys don't want multiple machin
        • One word:
        • by rts008 ( 812749 )
          I've been keeping track of your discussions, and the net/security geek side of me wants to rend my hair (what little is left!), the practical side of me that has ran across similar and other bizarre/arcane systems in my jobs can only wish you the best.

          Amazing is the number of mfg./industry systems are still running on Win95,98, and even a bunch on DOS!...all kinds of networking and interface hacks required to keep the woolly mammoths plodding along.

          I salute you, and award you the 'Wiley Coyote: Sooper Geniu
    • by CompMD ( 522020 )
      On ResNet, when you connected to the network you received an internal address that would route you to a computer registration page. You needed to supply at least your name and KU student ID number, and your MAC address was recorded. Only then would the DHCP server provide you with a routable IP and connect you to the Internet. That was four years ago. So yes, in the dorms, they sure as heck know you are when you do something you shouldn't.
      • Thanks -- very useful information. Okay, so they can track in the dorms now; that's an improvement. About five years ago there was a notorious incident where a machine(s) somewhere on the dorm network got hijacked and started generating massive quantities of spam. Their response: shut down the entire network (acutally, I think via routers they actually isolated it to one or two of those huge dorms on Daisy Hill (hey, this is an internal Jayhawk conversation right, even if this is Slashdot?) and just shut do

        • by CompMD ( 522020 )
          Actually, I got to witness it as it happened in 2004. Good god was that a nightmare. NTS shut down the entirety of Daisy Hill and Oliver for at least a week. Spam was going out due to massive virus infections. The MAC registration system was already in place when this happened. In the ensuing insanity, they shut down at least the Ellsworth router (I think a Catalyst 8500) because it was going bonkers with all the traffic if I recall correctly. This screwed with the load balancing of the entire campus
  • How is passing the letters on to the students an invasion of privacy?

    If the university were to pass on the name of the student they believe was the one using the network at a specific IP address at a specific time, then perhaps that would be just such an invasion of privacy. But I don't see how telling the student that they suspect was using that IP address then about the letter, or passing a copy of the letter to them (surely the university would keep a copy for their "files") invades the student's priva

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"