Washington, DC (April 18, 2005)–In response to an emerging epidemic of music theft on a specialized, high-speed university computer network known as Internet2, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), on behalf of the major record companies, has filed copyright infringement lawsuits against 405 students at 18 different colleges across the country.
Internet2 is an advanced network created by participating colleges and universities for important academic research. Through the use of a file-sharing application known as “i2hub,” however, Internet2 is increasingly becoming the network of choice for students seeking to steal copyrighted songs and other works on a massive scale. Downloading from i2hub via Internet2 is extremely fast–in most cases, less than five minutes for a movie or less than 20 seconds for a song. Students find i2hub especially appealing because they mistakenly believe their illegal file-sharing activities can’t be detected in the closed environment of the Internet2 network.
“This next generation of the Internet is an extraordinarily exciting tool for researchers, technologists and many others with valuable legitimate uses,” said Cary Sherman, president, RIAA. “Yet, we cannot let this high-speed network become a zone of lawlessness where the normal rules don’t apply. We have worked very constructively with the university community, improving educational efforts at colleges across the country, expanding partnerships between schools and legal online services and providing a clearinghouse for expertise on technological anti-piracy solutions. We cannot let rampant illegal downloading on Internet2 jeopardize this collaborative work. By taking this initial action, we are putting students and administrators everywhere on notice that there are consequences for unlawful uses of this special network.”
In addition to the 18 campuses whose students are being sued, the RIAA has evidence of i2hub infringement at another 140 schools in 41 states. While these schools were not included in the initial round of lawsuits, letters are being sent to each university president alerting them to the illegal activity occurring on their campuses.
More than two years ago, through the Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities, the RIAA and the entertainment community partnered with higher education leaders to address the issue of piracy on college campuses. Today, administrators are placing greater emphasis on teaching students about their responsibilities to respect copyrights and are making strides in strengthening and enforcing campus computer use policies on copyrighted materials. More than 40 institutions now offer legitimate on-line music delivery services to their students, and many schools are experimenting with technological means such as filtering to reduce the incidence of illegal activity.
“Without question, the Joint Committee’s efforts to respond to the issue of illegal P2P file sharing on campus networks continue to yield significant dividends,” Sherman said. “In order to maintain the gains we’ve made, we must move quickly to address this new threat emerging from i2hub and similar applications. We know that it’s very difficult for these legal services to gain real traction on college campuses when pirate services with lightning fast downloads are easily available to students with no seeming likelihood of detection or threat of consequences.”
The RIAA, in letters sent last week, asked university presidents to take action to stop illegal file sharing related to not only i2hub but also other university networks like the centralized piracy servers often set up by students on the college’s local area network. The letter, signed by the RIAA’s Sherman, asks university leaders to explore technical measures such as filtering and consider legitimate alternatives to offer to students.
“We think that any policymaker or campus administrator would be outraged to learn that a special, high-speed Internet technology designed for academic research has been hijacked for illegal purposes,” said Sherman. “Surely taxpayers would not want their money–through federal agency grants and R&D funding–facilitating the rampant theft of intellectual property on our college campuses.”
A total of 405 lawsuits were filed last week against students at Boston University, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Drexel University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan State University, New York University, Ohio State University, Princeton University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of California–Berkeley, University of California–San Diego, University of Massachusetts–Amherst, University of Pittsburgh and University of Southern California. Combined, the students being sued have illegally distributed more than 1.5 million total files, including more than 930,000 songs.
While evidence of infringing activity on i2hub is extensive, the RIAA has chosen to limit the number of lawsuits to 25 per school at this time. In addition, the 405 lawsuits that were filed are against some of the most egregious abusers of Internet2 technology. The average number of mp3 files shared by users sued in this round is more than 2,300, while the average number of total files is more than 3,900. Some users have shared as many as 13,600 mp3 files and as many as 72,700 total files (such as audio, software and video).