March 23, 2004 11:19 AM PST

New RIAA file-swapping suits filed

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The Recording Industry Association of America stepped up the pace of its lawsuits against music swappers again, with a renewed focus on university students.

The trade association said Tuesday that it sued an additional 532 anonymous individuals, including 89 people at 21 separate universities. This is the third round of suits since the RIAA was forced by the courts to file suits without first using subpoenas to learn the alleged file swappers' true identities.

"It's important for everyone to understand that no one is immune from the consequences of illegally 'sharing' music files on (peer to peer) networks," RIAA President Cary Sherman said in a statement. "Lawsuits are an important part of the larger strategy to educate file sharers about the law, protect the rights of copyright owners, and encourage music fans to turn to these legitimate services."

Nearly seven months into the RIAA's legal drive against individual file swappers, the overall effect remains mixed. Research and monitoring companies reported a steep initial drop in the number of people using file-sharing tools in the United States. But those figures leveled out by the end of last year.

Popularity of the tools, meanwhile, remains strong. Kazaa, the most widely used file-sharing program, was downloaded more than 1.9 million times last week alone, according to Download.com, a software aggregation site owned by News.com publisher CNET Networks.

However, awareness of the legal dangers of trading copyright files has risen substantially since the beginning of the RIAA's lawsuit strategy. The group cited a March survey it commissioned from Peter Hart research, in which 63 percent of people believed that it was illegal to "make music from the computer available for others to download for free over the Internet."

The group also noted that a full 28 percent of students thought that allowing others to download copyrighted music over the Net was legal, however. That "suggested more education was required," the RIAA said.

To date, 1,977 individuals have been sued by the RIAA. More than three-quarters of those suits have come since January and have fallen under the "John Doe" mechanism now required by the courts, in which the RIAA first sues anonymous individuals and obtains the identities of the defendants through a subsequent court process.

Early this month, a Philadelphia court handed the group a minor procedural setback, but in most cities the suits are proceeding on schedule, the RIAA said.

More than 400 individuals have settled with the record industry group, paying fines averaging near $3,000. None of the suits has come to a full trial yet.

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I THINK THAT THE RIAA CAN SUCK A FAT ONE
YOU KNOW WHAT ITS PEOPLE LIKE MYSELF THAT PAY 120 A MONTH FOR DAMN INTERNET SERVICE AN THE CABLE COMPANY IS SITTIN ON THEIR DAMN DUFFS SOAKIN UP ALL THE MONEY THAT TAXPAYERS LIKE MYSELF PAY INTO THEI9R BROADCASTING AN CANT TAKE 20 BUX OF THAT A MONTH TO LET US DL MUSIC IM ABOUT READY TO START A PROTEST IN FRONT OF MY DAMN CABLE COMPANY TELLIN THEM TO TAKE A CERTAIN PORTION OF MY CABLE BILL AN PUT TOWARDS MY RIGHTS TO DL MUSIC FROM AN Y FREAKIN PLACE I WANT AN I THOUGHT ALL THIS TIME THATS WHAT THEY WAS DOIN WAS TAKIN SO MUCH AN PUTTIN IT TOWARDS THAT BUT I GUESS NOT HUH !!!!!!!! WELL ILL WRITE BACK MORE LATER I GOTTA WORK TOMORROW SO I CAN PAY MY CABLE BILL FOR NOTHIN BUT A HASSLE
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RIAA SUX
MP3 downloads are no different than recording off the radio. In fact, I have purchased two CDs as a result of hearing MP3s I downloaded... I'l NEVER buy another album! For now on, I'll record my music from Cable... LOOK WHAT YOU HAVE DONE, RIAA!
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RIAA
I don't need kaza. My Cable co. has a good selection of music. I'll just pop in a VCR tape then run a patch cord to my computer convert to wave or mp3 then copy to my PDA...
Can also use a tape in my boom box and convert that to MP3...
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