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Music Theft on 19 Campuses Targeted in Wave of RIAA Pre-Lawsuit Letters

WASHINGTON - On behalf of the major record companies, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) this week sent a new wave of 395 pre-litigation settlement letters to 19 universities.

This new round of pre-litigation letters is the latest installment of a broad education and deterrence campaign that the RIAA launched earlier this year focused on illegal file trafficking on college campuses. The new process gives students the opportunity to resolve copyright infringement claims (www.p2plawsuits.com) against them at a discounted rate before a formal lawsuit is filed. Each pre-litigation settlement letter informs the school of a forthcoming copyright infringement suit against one of its students or personnel and requests that university administrators forward that letter to the appropriate network user.

In the fifth wave of this new initiative, the RIAA this week sent letters in the following quantities to 19 schools, including: Dartmouth College (13 pre-litigation settlement letters), DePaul University (19), Drexel University (26), Northeastern University (10), Northwestern University (16), North Carolina State University (43), Rochester Institute of Technology (19), Stanford University (19), Texas Christian University (7), University of California - Davis (34), University of California - Irvine (23), University of California - Los Angeles (37), University of California - San Diego (9), University of California - Santa Cruz (15) , University of Chicago (18), University of Nebraska - Lincoln (33), University of Oregon (17), Western Washington University (15), and Wichita State University (22). Because of the summer schedule, the RIAA is extending the amount of time that the recipient of a pre-litigation letter has to contact the organization’s legal representatives to work out a settlement.

The ongoing initiative comes as federal lawmakers continue to examine the state of copyright theft on college campuses. Earlier this week, lawmakers from the House Committee on Science and Technology convened a hearing on existing technological tools that can effectively prevent or curtail the illegal file trafficking of music and movies. Several members of Congress applauded universities for implementing technological measures, which some university representatives said had saved them substantial amounts of money because campus networks were less clogged with students exchanging copyrighted works.

“The music industry is transforming how it does business and embracing digital distribution models of every kind,” said Steven Marks, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, RIAA. “For students, many of these high-quality digital music options are available at deeply discounted rates – or even free. Those who continue to ignore great legal services and the law by stealing music online risk a federal lawsuit that could include thousands of dollars in penalties. With so many simple, easy and inexpensive ways to enjoy music legally these days, why take that risk?”

A survey by Student Monitor from last year found that more than half of college students download music and movies illegally. According to market research firm NPD, college students alone accounted for more than 1.3 billion illegal music downloads in 2006. While college students represented only 10 percent of the sample in the new online NPD study, they accounted for 26 percent of all music downloading on P2P networks and 21 percent of all P2P users.

The new legal letters are in addition to the lawsuits that the RIAA continues to file on a rolling basis against those engaging in music theft via commercial Internet accounts.


The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy