RealTime IT News

No Summer Break From The RIAA

Hollywood this week sent college students off to their summer vacations with another round of copyright infringement lawsuits.

This time around, the targets are students using their universities' Internet2 high-speed connections to allegedly swap music files illegally.

Thursday's lawsuits involved 91 students at 20 colleges and universities from Harvard to Berkeley. Last month, the music moguls filed lawsuits against students at 18 campuses using the file-sharing application i2hub to download and share music on the Internet2 network.

Internet2 is a second-generation network serving universities and research institutes. The network is much faster than the standard Internet with Abilene, a U.S. cross-country backbone, blasting data at 10 gigabits per second.

"As long as students continue to corrupt this specialized academic network for the flagrant theft of music, we will continue to make it clear that there are consequences for these unlawful actions," Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), said in a statement.

The RIAA's two-year litigation campaign against file swappers has resulted in thousands of lawsuits against students. Sherman promised more of the same in the coming months.

"Whether it's done on a computer at home or one in a college dorm room, the act of theft is one and the same," said Sherman. "These lawsuits have had a significant educational impact on the public and have helped to arrest the staggering growth of digital music theft. We will continue to aggressively pursue them."

In addition to the lawsuits filed Thursday against students on college campuses, the RIAA also filed new "John Doe" suits against 649 individuals accused of illegally distributing copyrighted music on the regular Internet using peer-to-peer software, such as Kazaa, LimeWire and Grokster.

John Doe lawsuits are used to sue defendants whose names aren't known. The lawsuits identify the defendants by their Internet protocol computer address. Once a John Doe suit has been filed and approved by a judge, the RIAA can subpoena the information needed to identify the defendant by name from an Internet service provider.

After months of a public awareness and education campaign about copyright theft, the RIAA launched its first legal attack in September of 2003. Since then the music group has regularly filed batches of several hundred lawsuits at a time against alleged music thefts.

Under U.S. law, damages for copyright violations range from $750 to $150,000 per copyrighted work infringed.