RIAA targets students again. Announces a new Campus Lawsuit Strategy

The RIAA has announced that it has sent over 400 “pre-lawsuit notices” to Universities and ISPs which will then be forwarded to their students and customers. With this notice, RIAA is serving a nice reminder to university and ISP officials to turn over the names of file-sharing students tied to the suspected IP address.

In a press conference call hosted today, RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Bainwol, President Cary Sherman, and General Counsel and Executive Vice President Steven Marks annouced this new initiative which comes with the added twist in that it allows the students, universities and ISPs now get a chance to settle with the RIAA at a “discount” without getting involved in costly law-suits.

Slyck News goes behind the mechanics of this latest round of the RIAA lawsuit engine. “An agent of the RIAA such as Media Sentry downloads a file from an unsuspecting file-sharer. A screenshot is made of the individual’s shared directory, or several files are downloaded to ensure a viable case. The individual’s IP address is then obtained. The RIAA then subpoenas the file-sharer’s ISP requesting the personal information asssociated with that IP address when the alleged upload occured.”

The RIAA has mailed out this first round of 400 pre lawsuit notices to 13 different universities which include Arizona State, Marshall University, NC State, North Dakota State, Northern Illinois University, Ohio University, Syracuse University, UMass Amherst, University of Nebraska at Lincoln, USF, University of Southern California, University of Tennessee at Knoxville and the University of Texas at Austin. Each university is expected to receive around 20 to 37 letters each with Ohio University accounting for the most at 50. The RIAA said it would sue individuals who fail to settle or don’t respond within a few weeks.

Once the accused students get these notices, they are given the option to settle within 20 days over the phone or on P2Plawsuits.com at a “substantial discount”. The RIAA also said it intends to sue more students and others on campuses in the next three months than it has in the past three years. The RIAA has already sued 1,062 computer users at 130 universities so far in the last three years.

According to Mitch Bainwol, CEO of RIAA

” 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”

Under this new settlement deal offered by the RIAA, students would have to pay the fine and then sign a statement promising that they would no longer download music illegally. The average settlement in past cases has ranged between $4000 and $4500. So students, put away that beer money stash because it might be the RIAA knocking on your dorm door and not your buddy.