EFF Releases Comprehensive Report on Recording Industry's Litigation Campaign

San Francisco - As college students across the country head back to class this fall, they need to worry about more than keeping up on their schoolwork. The Recording Industry of America (RIAA) continues to target college campuses for hundreds of new lawsuits each month. Meanwhile, under pressure from the recording industry, universities are instituting draconian punishments for students suspected of sharing music files. At the same time, the RIAA continues to sue file sharers off campus, with a total tally now exceeding 20,000.

In a report released today, "RIAA v. The People: Four Years Later," the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) provides the only comprehensive look at the four-year litigation campaign waged by the RIAA against music fans. The report traces the RIAA campaign from its beginnings in 2003 against a handful of students at Princeton, Rensselaer Polytechnic, and Michigan Tech to the current spate of "pre-litigation settlement" letters being sent to universities nationwide.

"Despite the RIAA's legal campaign, file-sharing is more popular than ever," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "History will treat this as a shameful chapter in the history of the music industry, when record companies singled out random music fans for disproportionate penalties. Artists must be compensated, but these lawsuits aren't putting money in any creator's pocket."

The crackdown on Internet file-sharing has already driven music fans to technologies that are harder to monitor -- for example, burning and exchanging CDs among friends and sharing on members-only "darknets." EFF calls on universities to help artists get paid for their creative work while protecting their students from costly legal problems. Universities should insist on a blanket license for their students, collecting a reasonable regular payment -- for example, $5 a month -- in exchange for the right to keep sharing music with their classmates.

"This is about money, not morality," said von Lohmann. "With a blanket licensing solution, the RIAA can call off the lawyers and the lobbyists, and universities can get back to education instead of copyright enforcement."

For the full report "RIAA v. The People: Four Years Later":

For more on the litigation campaign:

FAQ for students faced with "pre-litigation letters":


Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

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