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Hollywood Targets Campus LANs

The music and movie industries are again targeting illegal file sharing through college and university local area networks (LANs).

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) sent letters Thursday to 40 universities in 25 states alerting the schools of LAN piracy problems on their campuses.

The letters encourage administrators to review the use of their computer networks and to take steps to stop and prevent the illegal trading of copyrighted music and videos.

"As we prioritize our focus on campus LAN piracy in the coming year, we hope administrators will take this opportunity to fully evaluate their systems and take action to stop theft by all means," RIAA President Cary Sherman said in a statement.

In April of 2003, the RIAA brought lawsuits against the student operators of four campus LAN networks at three schools.

After the lawsuits were filed, university administrators closed down at least a dozen campus LAN servers where music theft had been prevalent.

Since then, in addressing university file-sharing, campus LAN piracy is increasingly identified as a key challenge by lawmakers in Congress as well as the Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities.

"Campus LAN piracy is not new, yet the problem has taken on new urgency," Sherman said.

"We know from past experience that bringing this problem to light can effect real change. We are hopeful that this new systematic program will yield even more positive results."

Most illegal copying and distribution of music and movies occurs over the public Internet on peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing systems.

However, college and university students are increasingly turning to programs such as Direct Connect, MyTunes and OurTunes to swap files on campus LANs.

According to the RIAA and the MPAA, the "perceived security and privacy" of these campus LANs give many students incentives to engage in piracy.

"Despite the progress achieved by our collaborative efforts, this remains an ever-evolving problem. We cannot ignore the growing misuse of campus LAN systems or the toll this means of theft is taking on our industry," Sherman said.