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RIAA Sues Six More MITnet Users

By Kelley Rivoire

Six MIT students are among the 757 individuals the record industry sued for copyright infringement two weeks ago. The record companies allege that the students shared songs over the Internet without authorized permission.

The students are identified only by the IP addresses used at the time the songs were shared. The record industry has requested court permission to issue subpoenas that would require MIT to provide the names corresponding to the IP addresses. The Record Industry Association of America, which files the lawsuits on behalf of the record companies, notifies university administrators prior to filing the suits, RIAA spokesperson Amanda Hunter said in an e-mail.

Including the new round of lawsuits, the record industry has sued 29 MIT students since March.

“These lawsuits are part of our ongoing enforcement program and part of our overall effort to discourage illegal downloading and encourage music fans to turn to legal services,” Hunter said.

In addition to MIT, the 757 individuals include students from 16 other universities, including Carnegie Melon, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, and the University of California, Berkeley, according to an RIAA press release.

Of the 23 MIT students the record industry sued this spring, court records indicate that at least three have settled.

One of those 23 said she settled with the RIAA in August, after the RIAA issued a subpoena to MIT to obtain her name. She said as part of the settlement, in which she paid “just under $4000,” she remains anonymous so that only her IP address appears in the court records.

The RIAA has filed lawsuits against more than 14,800 individuals since September 2003, and over 3,400 cases have been settled so far, Hunter said.

This June, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that music-sharing services such as Grokster encourage users to share copyrighted digital files. “If there was any doubt, there is now none — individuals who download music without permission are breaking the law,” Hunter said. “These lawsuits have helped arrest the tremendous growth of illicit peer-to-peer use, and we will continue to aggressively pursue them.”

Tongyan Lin contributed to the reporting of this story.