RIAA Brings New Round of Cases Against Illegal File Sharers

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), on behalfof the major record companies, brought a new round of legal actionagainst individual computer users offering substantial amounts ofcopyrighted music files for free on peer-to-peer networks,including illegal file sharers at 21 different universities.
A total of 532 illegal file sharers were included in today`saction, including 89 individuals who were using university networksto illegally distribute copyrighted sound recordings onpeer-to-peer services. The university networks used for thisillegal activity include schools in Arizona, California, Colorado,Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee,Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin. Lawsuits against 443 illegal filesharers using commercial ISPs were brought in California,Colorado,Missouri,Texas andVirginia. Likethe lawsuits filed earlier this year, the RIAA is again utilizingthe ”John Doe” litigation process – which is used to suedefendants whose names are not known.
”There is an exciting array of legal music services where fans canget high-quality online music,” said Cary Sherman, President,RIAA. ”Lawsuits are an important part of the larger strategy toeducate file sharers about the law, protect the rights of copyrightowners and encourage music fans to turn to these legitimateservices.
”It`s important for everyone to understand that no one is immunefrom the consequences of illegally ‘sharing’ musicfiles on P2P networks,” added Sherman. ”Piracy, which isparticularly rampant on college campuses, continues to hurtretailers, musicians, producers, record labels and the thousands ofless-celebrated individuals involved in making music. It underminesthe ability of the music community to invest in the great,up-and-coming artists of tomorrow – a real loss especiallyfor fans who look for fresh, new music.”
Whilelevels of piracy on college campuses remain high, there has beenreal progress during the last two years. Schools across the countryare taking proactive steps to better educate students about illegalfile sharing and are stepping up enforcement of their rules againstcopyright violations. Many university administrators have installedcomputer network management technologies such as bandwidth shaping.Other schools have implemented, or are exploring, partnerships withlegal, online music services. Lawsuits remain a key component ofthe music industry`s effort to protect its rights and legitimizethe online music marketplace.
”The expansion of legal online music services to college campusesis an extraordinary and exciting development,” said Sherman.”Delivering legal online music directly to students and expandingthe opportunities for digital services is a win-win foreveryone.”
The new wave of lawsuits – just one element of amulti-pronged strategy designed to migrate fans from theillegitimate to the legitimate music marketplace – comes amidcontinued signs that the industry`s education and enforcementcampaign is having an impact. According to a March survey by PeterD. Hart Research Associates, those who say it is illegal to ”makemusic from the computer available for others to download for freeover the Internet” stands at 63 percent, with only 15 percentsaying they think it’s legal. Sixty-two percent of thesubgroup of students also thought the activity was illegal; but 28percent thought it was legal, suggesting that more education isrequired.
By a more than two-to-one margin, the public supports the recordcompanies’ legal efforts, according to the Hart poll.Fifty-six percent say they are ”supportive and understanding”when told that the ”record industry is gathering evidence andpreparing lawsuits against individual computer users who areillegally sharing substantial amounts of copyrighted music online”compared to 19 percent who say they are ”unsupportive andnegative.” Among students, 50 percent are supportive andunderstanding, while 27 percent are unsupportive and negative.The first round of ”John Doe” litigations filed in January isproceeding along. All four courts in that round have granted therecord companies’ preliminary request to issue subpoenas toInternet Service Providers (ISPs) to learn the identity of illegalfile sharers. The record companies plan to send letters toidentified individuals offering to settle with them beforelitigation continues any further. If an illegal file sharer rejectsthe settlement overture, the record companies will proceed withlitigation against that individual.
For the second round of suits brought in February, courts inGeorgia and New Jersey have approved the RIAA`s motion to beginissuing subpoenas. The court in
Florida hasrequested additional briefing. In Philadelphia, theRIAA is asking the court to re-consider an initial decision thatthe RIAA needed to file individual complaints for each illegal filesharer.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND: The individuals included in today’slegal action were on the networks of the following universities(listed in alphabetical order of state or name): University ofArizona; University of California, Berkeley; California StateUniversity — Northridge; University of Colorado at ColoradoSprings; Drexel University; George Mason University; GeorgeWashington University; Georgetown University; Indiana University;University of Indianapolis; Loyola Marymount University; MarquetteUniversity; University of Maryland; University of Michigan; NewYork University; University of Northern Colorado; University ofPennsylvania; University of Southern California; StanfordUniversity; Vanderbilt University; and Villanova University.The Recording Industry Association of America is the trade groupthat represents the
U.S.recordingindustry. Its mission is to foster a business and legal climatethat supports and promotes our members` creative and financialvitality. Its members are the record companies that comprise themost vibrant national music industry in the world. RIAA(R) memberscreate, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 90% of alllegitimate sound recordings produced and sold in the UnitedStates. In support ofthis mission, the RIAA works to protect intellectual propertyrights worldwide and the First Amendment rights of artists; conductconsumer industry and technical research; and monitor and review –state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA(R) alsocertifies Gold(R), Platinum(R), Multi-Platinum(TM), and Diamondsales awards, Los Premios De Oro y Platino(TM), an awardcelebrating Latin music sales.]