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
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
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.