Music Industry Sues 532 Swappers; Charges Illegal Downloading

Article excerpt

Byline: Tim Lemke, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The recording industry yesterday sued 532 persons - including computer users at four area universities - accusing them of illegally downloading music on the Internet.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), in an effort to protect new fee-based song-swapping systems, said it was targeting users of illegal file-sharing services, including 89 persons who used high-speed Internet connections at 21 U.S. universities.

The suits include computer users at Georgetown, George Washington and George Mason universities, as well as the University of Maryland at College Park.

"Piracy, which is particularly rampant on college campuses, continues to hurt retailers, musicians, producers, record labels and thousands of less-celebrated individuals involved in making music," said RIAA President Cary Sherman. "There is an exciting array of legal music services where fans can get high-quality music online."

All 532 defendants are listed as "John Doe" in the lawsuits. The RIAA plans to uncover the identity of the defendants by linking the offending Internet protocol addresses to users. It plans to issue subpoenas to the universities and Internet providers, requesting that they release the names of people violating copyright laws.

Most college students have access to high-speed, always-on Internet connections, making college campuses hotbeds for illegal song swapping. Napster, one of the earliest file-sharing systems, was founded by a college student and exploded in popularity on campuses in the late 1990s. Napster since has been purchased by Roxio Inc. and molded into a pay service.

Other illegal networks including Kazaa, Bearshare and Morpheus still are widely used and have been difficult to shut down. The RIAA estimates that more than 2.6 billion songs are downloaded illegally each month. …