Byline: Michael Carney, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Four college students - including a sophomore who was forced to hand over his life savings - were the first targets of the recording industry's effort to crack down on fans they say are stealing music by sharing it over the Internet. While the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) says it is fighting thieves, critics say the industry is alienating millions of music fans who engage in the practice of file-sharing, where digital files of tunes are swapped among computer users.
The legal floodgates opened wide when Verizon Communications was forced to turn over the names of four customers who the RIAA says engaged in Internet music piracy.
The RIAA said on June 19 the four users would receive cease-and-desist letters demanding they stop sharing illegal music for downloading or face lawsuits.
Six days later, the RIAA announced in both a daring and risky move it would file lawsuits against several hundred individuals accused of illegally …