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New Wave of RIAA Pre-Lawsuit Letters Targets Music Theft on 13 Campuses

Northern Illinois University, University of Southern California,University of South Florida and University of Tennessee Receive 50 Letters Each

First Letters to Brandeis, Duke, MIT, Tufts, University of Iowa Come in Fourth Wave of New Recording Industry Deterrence Program

WASHINGTON – On behalf of the major record companies, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) today sent a fourth wave of 402 pre-litigation settlement letters to 13 universities.

Earlier this year, the RIAA launched new deterrence and education initiatives focused on illegal file trafficking on college campuses – a significant escalation and expansion of the industry’s ongoing efforts, coupled with the implementation of a new process that gives students the opportunity to resolve copyright infringement claims 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 fourth wave of this new initiative, the RIAA today sent letters in the following quantities to 13 schools, including: Brandeis University (15 pre-litigation settlement letters), Duke University (35), Iowa State University (15), Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT (23), Northern Illinois University (50), Syracuse University (20), Tufts University (15), University of Georgia (19), University of Iowa (25), University of Southern California (50), University of South Florida (50), University of Tennessee (50), and the University of Texas - Austin (35).

“With record companies embracing digital distribution models of every kind, there is more legal music available now than ever before,” said Steven Marks, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, RIAA. “For students, many of these high-quality music options are available at deeply discounted rates – or even free. Yet, for one reason or another, theft on college campuses continues at disproportionately high levels. We will continue to educate fans of all ages, but deterrence is equally important. Students must understand that there are consequences for their illegal actions.”

A survey by Student Monitor from spring 2006 found that more than half of college students download music and movies illegally, and 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. Furthermore, college students surveyed by NPD reported that more than two-thirds of all the music they acquired was obtained illegally.

These enforcement actions come 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