Scores of individuals using computer networks at 21 universities were among the 532 people sued by the recording industry March 23 for illegally sharing digital music files over the internet.

The latest wave of copyright lawsuits brought by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) marks the first time the trade group has specifically targeted computer users swapping music files over university networks.

The RIAA filed the “John Doe” complaints against 89 individuals using networks at universities in 10 states. Lawsuits also were filed against 443 people using commercial internet access providers in five states.

The recording group did not name which internet access providers the defendants were using.

With the “John Doe” lawsuits, the recording industry must work through the courts to find out the identities of the defendants, which at the outset are identified only by the numeric internet protocol addresses assigned to computers online.

The defendants, which the trade group claims offered “substantial amounts” of music files, face potential civil penalties or settlements that could cost them thousands of dollars. Settlements in previous cases have averaged $3,000 each.

“We are sending a clear message that downloading or ‘sharing’ music from a peer-to-peer network without authorization is illegal, it can have consequences, and it undermines the creative future of music itself,” RIAA President Cary Sherman said.

Including the March 23 filings, the recording industry has sued 1,977 people since launching its legal assault against online music piracy last fall. RIAA has reached out-of-court settlements in approximately 400 of the cases.


Recording Industry Association of America