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RIAA Sends More Pre-Lawsuit Letters To Colleges One Year Into Campaign

WASHINGTON - The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), on behalf of its member record companies, has sent a new wave of 401 pre-litigation settlement letters to 12 universities this week.

The letters cite individuals for online music theft via peer-to-peer services such as Ares, BitTorrent, Gnutella, Limewire, and Morpheus.

The RIAA’s thirteenth wave of letters went to the following colleges this week: Boston University (35 pre-litigation settlement letters), Columbia University (50), Drexel University (33), Indiana University (40), North Carolina State University (35), Ohio State University (30), Purdue University (28), Tufts University (20), University of Maine System (32), University of New Hampshire (32), University of Southern California (50), and the University of Virginia (16).

The pre-lawsuit letters, sent to individuals at more than 150 schools, are one piece of a multi-faceted industry campaign to encourage fans to enjoy music legally. Despite years of warnings, educational campaigns and the availability of multiple legal options, online music theft, especially on campuses, remains a major problem for the music community and saps opportunities for investment in new bands.
Recipients of the letter have the opportunity to avoid a potential lawsuit by settling out of court for a reduced fee. Formal lawsuits have been filed against 2,465 letter recipients. These individuals either disregarded settlement opportunities or were not given the option to settle early because the university failed to forward the letters. Of the 5003 letters sent in prior rounds, the RIAA has reached settlements with more than 2,300 of those individuals.

“One year into our legal campaign, we’ve seen an emerging legal marketplace that would have struggled to gain traction were it not for our efforts to clamp down on online music theft,” said Cara Duckworth, Director of Communications, RIAA. “The exponential growth of illicit peer-to-peer has stabilized and music lovers know what they can and can’t do when getting music online. This has fostered a climate that helps music companies earn a fair return so that they can invest in the next generation of artists and new bands can have a shot at realizing a dream.”

“Unfortunately,” added Duckworth, “too many students continue to ignore the law and get music from illegal services like Limewire that do not invest a penny in nurturing music or compensating the artists, labels and the thousands of behind the scenes workers bringing music to the public.”

Record companies have partnered with innovative services to offer fans an unprecedented array of compelling alternatives. According to global music trade body IFPI, there are now more than six million tracks available on 500 different services. In the United States, today’s music enthusiasts can enjoy their favorite music via download services like Amazon.com, iTunes.com and Wal-Mart.com, subscription services like Rhapsody and Napster, social networking sites such as iMeem, satellite and Internet radio businesses like XM, Sirius, and Last.fm, and even legal peer-to-peer sites such as iMesh.

“The future of music is brimming with innovation,” said Duckworth. “For those who choose to ignore all the content-rich alternatives and get music the wrong way, they run the risk of legal action, potential disciplinary enforcement from a university and crippling both their computer and the university network.

“This month’s 50th GRAMMY celebration is a reflection of music’s integral and timeless nature. The creative collaborations of past and present artists remind us of the need to preserve the future of one of America’s greatest cultural symbols,” she added.

A survey by Student Monitor from 2006 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. Additionally, the Institute for Policy Innovation (www.ipi.org) recently estimated that the global theft of sound recordings cost the U.S. economy $12.5 billion in lost revenue and more than 71,000 jobs and $2 billion in wages to U.S. workers.

Since launching its deterrence program in February 2007, the RIAA has sent approximately 5,404 pre-litigation settlement letters. The 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.

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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.

Contact:
Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy
202/775-0101