RIAA Sends More Law Pre-Lawsuit Letters to Colleges with New School Year

Source: The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)

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The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), on behalf of the major record companies, this week sent a new wave of 403 pre-litigation settlement letters to 22 universities nationwide. The letters reflect evidence of significant abuse of campus computer networks for the purpose of copyright infringement.

Along with this latest installment of letters, the RIAA is also resuming, to coincide with the new academic year, its university advertising campaign, with full-page ads, created by college students, published in college papers across the country. The advertisements aim to encourage fans to enjoy online music legally and remind students of the legal, privacy and security risks associated with illegal downloading.

In the eighth wave of this initiative, the RIAA this week sent letters in the following quantities to 22 schools including: Arizona State University (35 pre-litigation settlement letters), Carnegie Mellon University (13), Cornell University (19), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (30), Michigan State University (16), North Dakota State University (17), Purdue University - West Lafayette and Calumet campuses (49), University of California - Santa Barbara (13), University of Connecticut (17), University of Maryland - College Park (23), University of Massachusetts - Amherst and Boston campuses (52), University of Nebraska - Lincoln (13), University of Pennsylvania (31), University of Pittsburgh (14), University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, Madison, Milwaukee, Stevens Point, Stout and Whitewater campuses (62).

As before, the legal process gives students the opportunity to resolve copyright infringement claims (www.p2plawsuits.com) against them at a discounted rate before a formal lawsuit is filed. Each pre-litigation settlement letter informs the school of a forthcoming copyright infringement suit against one of its students or personnel and requests that university administrators forward the letter to the appropriate network user.

The ongoing initiative comes as federal lawmakers continue to examine the state of copyright theft on college campuses nationwide. This summer, Congress convened a hearing focused on the technological tools that can effectively prevent or curtail the illegal file trafficking of music and movies. These cost-effective tools assist college administrators by protecting the network from damaging viruses and spyware often connected with several P2P services and by freeing the amount of usable network bandwidth that was otherwise consumed by the exchange of large copyrighted files.

The RIAA has also developed "best practices" information, based on the tools and practices initiated by schools experiencing fewer incidences of piracy on their networks. Specifically, universities that have experienced the most positive results have instituted specific reforms that educate students on campus network use and enforcement policies, offer affordable legal alternatives that give students access to their favorite music, and, most importantly, implement appropriate technological tools that protect the integrity of their networks.

"The music industry continues to develop exciting new digital models that offer fans, including college students, their favorite music how they want it and where they want it," said Steven Marks, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, RIAA. "The good news is that students represent some of music's biggest fans. Unfortunately, they too often turn to illegal sites for their music. The enormous damage compounded with every illegal download is alarming - thousands of regular, working class musicians and others out of work, stores shuttered, new bands never signed. Those who choose to ignore great legal services and the law by acquiring music the wrong way risk a federal lawsuit that could include thousands of dollars in penalties. With so many simple, easy and inexpensive ways to enjoy music legally theses days, there's no excuse - don't risk it, pay for it."

A survey by Student Monitor from last year found that more than half of college students download music and movies illegally. According to market research firm NPD, college students alone accounted for more than 1.3 billion illegal music downloads in 2006. According to non-profit research group Institute for Policy Innovation, global theft of sound recordings cost the U.S. economy $12.5 billion in lost revenue and more than 71,000 jobs and $2 billion in wages to U.S. workers.

In addition to the new round of pre-litigation letters, the RIAA also today filed 24 copyright infringement lawsuits against previous recipients of letters who have ignored settlement opportunities. The lawsuits were filed in federal court against students from University of California - Santa Cruz, Florida International University, University of South Florida, Cornell University, Morehead State University, University of Maryland - College Park, North Carolina State University, North Dakota State University, Syracuse University, Ithaca College, University of Massachusetts - Amherst, Columbia University, Ohio University, Kent State University and Marshall University. The RIAA continues to file these lawsuits on a rolling basis against those engaging in music theft via university and commercial networks.

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[The Recording Industry Association of America is the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. Its mission is to foster a business and legal climate that supports and promotes our members' creative and financial vitality. Its members are the record companies that comprise the most vibrant national music industry in the world. RIAA(R) members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 90% of all legitimate sound recordings produced and sold in the United States. In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect intellectual property rights worldwide and the First Amendment rights of artists; conducts consumer, industry and technical research; and monitors and reviews state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA(R) also certifies Gold(R), Platinum(R), Multi-Platinum(TM), and Diamond sales awards, as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino(TM), an award celebrating Latin music sales.]

(C) Copyright 2007 The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) & Collegiate Presswire. All Rights Reserved.

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