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Business and Policy Areas
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New Lawsuits Target Music File Sharing on 21 Campuses

March 24, 2004

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) filed a new round of lawsuits accusing 532 computer users of illegally sharing copyrighted music over the Internet. For the first time, the association specifically mentioned the names of 21 higher education institutions where it identified 89 network users swapping songs. The suits do not target the institutions, only specific users on the campus computer networks.

The RIAA began suing illegal file sharers last year, and several high-profile rounds of litigation have followed. The association has never previously disclosed whether it was specifically targeting file sharing over college and university computer networks, although settlements have been reached with several current and former college students.

The speed of litigation initiated by the RIAA may slow significantly, however. A recent court decision by a Philadelphia judge forces the RIAA to file "John Doe" suits individually rather than in one large summary filing. For technological reasons, defendants in the RIAA suits have not been identified by name, only by their unique numerical Internet Protocol addresses. The Philadelphia ruling only applies to a limited jurisdiction, as other judges have allowed the mass filings to proceed.

Information on the legal filings is available on the RIAA's Web site.