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RIAA files new round of P2P lawsuits

Record labels say legal battle against file-swappers is part of a successful education process.

John Borland Staff Writer, CNET News.com
John Borland
covers the intersection of digital entertainment and broadband.
John Borland
The Recording Industry Association of America filed a new round of lawsuits against anonymous computer users on Thursday, alleging they had illegally traded copyrighted files through peer-to-peer networks.

As in previous months, the trade group highlighted lawsuits against individuals at college campuses, where students have often taken a leading role on peer-to-peer networks. Just 25 of the 761 people sued were at campuses, however.

The labels' announcement came only days after the Motion Picture Association of America filed its own first round of similar lawsuits against file-traders, the first by Hollywood studios.

RIAA executives pointed to growing numbers of authorized music services on college campuses, and the slow but steady growth in online music stores like Apple Computer's iTunes, as having had a positive impact on potential swappers' actions.

"The lawsuits are an essential educational tool," RIAA President Cary Sherman said in a statement. "They remind music fans about the law and provide incentives to university administrators to offer legal alternatives."

The long months of clockwork lawsuit filings have undeniably helped raise awareness of the potential legal hazards of trading copyrighted works online among students, parents and the Internet community at large. Its impact on the overall quantity of file-trading online has been less clear, however.

Some early studies showed a sharp drop in the number of users on file-swapping networks. Other, more recent studies, showed that peer-to-peer traffic had remained constant or has grown.

The latest RIAA suits brought the total number of file-swappers sued by the recording industry to 6,952.