Sixty-nine of the accused have allegedly been using university networks -- including those at Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and Washington -- to distribute music through peer-to-peer services. As with previous suits, the RIAA is utilizing the John Doe litigation process, which allows it to file suit against defendants whose identities are not yet known. More than 2,000 such suits have been filed so far this year.
"It remains as important as ever that we continue to work with the university community in a way that is respectful of the law as well as university values," RIAA president Cary Sherman said. "Along with offering students legitimate music services, campus-wide educational and technological initiatives are playing a critical role. But there is also a complementary need for enforcement by copyright owners against the serious offenders -- to remind people that this activity is illegal."
The new round of lawsuits will be the first filed since the RIAA announced plans to terminate the Clean Slate amnesty program it began last September. The program allowed defendants to avoid prosecution by eliminating illegally obtained material from their computers and pledging not to engage in illegal song swapping in the future. The plan drew criticism, as it didn't protect defendants from suits filed by people or organizations outside of the RIAA.