An Oregon woman is suing the music industry trade association in a case that could force the group to reveal how it targets people in its campaign to curb illegal downloading and sharing of music online.

That knowledge could prove useful for higher-education officials, many of whom have been critical of the highly secretive process by which the group has singled out college students and demanded money from them—a technique that leaves the students with an unpleasant choice: pay a few thousand dollars right away, or face the prospect of an even more costly lawsuit.

Tanya Andersen, who claims the recording industry’s...

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