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Recording Industry Sends Demand Letters

The Recording Industry Association of America tried a new legal tactic in the past year: the association sent 63 letters to MIT in 2007 and 19 more in January 2008, asking for money and threatening to file copyright infringement lawsuits against MIT community members.

Each letter is addressed to MIT directly and contains the IP address of a person the RIAA says shared copyrighted music on the Internet. MIT can usually identify the person who is using a particular IP address on its network, and at the RIAA’s request, MIT has forwarded the demand letters to each IP address’s user.

In the letters, the RIAA threatens to file a “John Doe” copyright infringement lawsuit and to file a subpoena which will identify a target; the association threatens that if it wins such a lawsuit, the target is responsible for at least $750 per song in statutory minimum damages.

So far most students have signed a settlement letter with the RIAA and have paid money, usually $3,000 to $5,000, in exchange for not being sued. One student told The Tech in 2008 that he planned not to settle and will challenge the RIAA’s lawsuit.