News.com :: Campus file swappers to pay RIAA Four students are going to pay the RIAA between $12,000 and $17,000 each over the next 4 years. Obviously just to set an example... as I don't believe the RIAA is waiting on that money to make loan payments or something. I'd be curious how much they spent on court costs to make such a point. These students wrote software that takes advantage of the fact that most windows machines are setup insecurely with the shares accessible to the world (or in this case the rest of the University network). Sure some of the shares may have been open on purpose, but typically people don't realize what is at risk when they have a pre-Win2k machine connected to a network 24/7. The software connects to the open shares, hunts around to find any MP3s and then provides some sort of frontend web interface so that people can do searches on the index, get results that are likely just pointers to where the files are, and then connect directly to the opened share and download the music. Although the RIAA described it as mini-Napster (Napster baaaaaaaad) the students actually viewed it as more like a mini search engine (a mini-Google they said) because it just crawls to create an index then provides access to the index through a single website. When you search it provides you with a pointer (a link) and not the actual file itself. As far as I can tell from the meager details in the news article, their description is accurate. With that in mind, it would almost have made more sense to charge them with accessing remote computers without permission -- cracking -- rather than providing pointers to where music can be downloaded.