Record Industry Sues 405 Students for Alleged File Sharing

Acting to stop what it claims is "an emerging epidemic of music theft on a specialized, high-speed university computer network known as Internet2," the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), representing the major record companies, announced it is filing copyright infringement lawsuits against 405 students at 18 different colleges across the country.

"We don't condone or support illegal file-sharing," Internet2's chief executive, Doug Van Houweling told the Associated Press. "We've always understood that just like there is a lot of file-sharing going on on the public Internet, there's also some file-sharing going on on Internet2."

In addition to the 18 campuses whose students are being sued, the RIAA said it has evidence of i2hub infringement at another 140 schools in 41 states. While these schools were not included in the initial round of lawsuits, RIAA said letters are being sent to each university president alerting them to the illegal activity occurring on their campuses.

The RIAA, in letters sent today, is asking university presidents to take action to stop illegal file sharing related to not only i2hub but also other university networks like the centralized piracy servers often set up by students on the college’s local area network. The letter, signed by Cary Sherman, RIAA president, asks university leaders to explore technical measures such as filtering and consider legitimate alternatives to offer to students.

“We think that any policymaker or campus administrator would be outraged to learn that a special, high-speed Internet technology designed for academic research has been hijacked for illegal purposes,” said Sherman. “Surely taxpayers would not want their money – through federal agency grants and R&D funding – facilitating the rampant theft of intellectual property on our college campuses.”

While evidence of infringing activity on i2hub is extensive, according to the RIAA, it has chosen to limit the number of lawsuits to 25 per school at this time. In addition, RIAA said the 405 lawsuits are against some of the most egregious abusers of Internet2 technology. The average number of mp3 files shared by users sued in this round is more than 2,300, while the average number of total files is more than 3,900, RIAA said.

"Some users have shared as many as 13,600 mp3 files and as many as 72,700 total files (such as audio, software and video)," the RIAA announcement stated.

Find out more: Internetnews.com article. RIAA press release.

From the Campus Technology archives: Lost Under the Streetlight: By Kenneth C. Green, who says: "It may be convenient to blame higher ed for its w'es, but the recording industry might be better served to look closer to home."

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