The group said last week that it has sent letters to Columbia University, Duke University, Dartmouth College, University of Pennsylvania, Yale, Princeton, and Brown University, as part of its continuing battle against music file sharing on campuses. The letters inform administrators that someone used their network to download copyrighted music and advises campus administrations to inform their network users so those targeted have a chance to respond.
In many cases, however, the pre-litigation letters do not name the students or faculty members accused of file sharing.
"Today's music marketplace is a rapidly expanding landscape with legitimate new digital services and models emerging on almost a daily basis," Jonathan Lamy, senior VP of Communications for the RIAA, said in a prepared statement. "That's great news for the music community and fans, who have access to affordable and convenient new ways to get their favorite music. No legitimate offering, no matter how compelling, can reach its full potential when competing with free in an environment where people feel comfortable stealing music with impunity."
Lamy said that lawsuits are the RIAA's "last preference" but necessary "given the continuing prevalence of music theft on college campuses."
"This theft triggers a harmful domino effect throughout the music community -- thousands of regular, working class musicians and others out of work, record stores shuttered, new bands never signed," he said. "When faced with this reality, we have no choice but to hold those individuals responsible for ignoring the law and all the great new legal ways to get affordable, high-quality music."
The RIAA cited research that found college students accounted for more than 1.3 billion illegal music downloads last year. The organization states that piracy costs tens of billions in lost revenue, more than $2 billion in lost wages and tens of thousands of jobs.
The RIAA and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have developed "best practices" based on policies at schools with fewer incidences of piracy on their networks. The groups said piracy is less common on campuses that educate students about network use and enforcement policies, offer affordable legal alternatives for students to access their favorite music, and use technology to protect their networks.
The rest of the 16 campuses include Boston University, Central Michigan University, North Carolina State University, the University of Chicago, the University of Maine system, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Connecticut, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the University of Texas, Austin.
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