In a bold move to quash illegal music file sharing, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) stated on Thursday, March 1, 2007 it would be notifying university student offenders across the country of a last chance opportunity to settle with the industry before legal actions would be filed in the courts.
The pre-litigation letters are slated to go out to some 400 students believed to having shared copyrighted songs online. By offering online music sharers a reduced settlement, the RIAA, working on the behalf of major labels, hopes to send a message to colleges and universities campuses, where the accepted illegal practice has reached epidemic proportions.The letters, mailed to 13 universities across the country, notifies the schools of the pending lawsuits and requests that the suspected file sharing user be notified through the university computer system of this discounted offer to settle any claims against that user out of court.
Determined to extinguish the practice of online music piracy, the industry group vowed to expand their campaign by mailing out similar offers to suspected offenders each month to more universities and colleges across the US.
The first round of letters to be sent out on Thursday span the country with 23 letters going to Arizona State University to the 37 sent out to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The University of Texas at Austin will receive 33 letters, 37 to Syracuse University in New York, while 20 will go to North Dakota State University. Other universities targeted are Marshall University with 20, North Carolina State University with 37, University of South Florida with 31, University of Tennessee at Knoxville with 28, Ohio University with a whopping 50, the University of Southern California with 20, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with 36 and Northern Illinois University with 28.
After tackling and conquering many of the online businesses cashing in on illegal file sharing, the RIAA plunged further into the legal fray by aiming its sights on individuals downloading copyrighted songs for free in 2003. Colleges and universities, ripe hotbeds of online piracy, are just the latest battleground for the RIAA. The industry has high hopes the pre-litigation campaign and an increased focus on technological breakthroughs that better track users might deter future online pirates.
Mitch Bainwol, Chairman and CEO of the RIAA, in response to the campaign asserted, "We understand that no deterrence or education program will ‘solve’ piracy." Adding, "The theft of music remains unacceptably high and undermines the industry’s ability to invest in new music. This is especially the case on college campuses, despite innovative business models like Ruckus’ offer of free, legal music to any college student. Our work with college administrators has yielded real progress, and we’re grateful for the help of those who have worked closely with us. At the same time, we recognize that the nature of online music theft is changing, and we need to adjust our strategies accordingly."