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Labels expand campus tactic

From Bloomberg News

The music industry Wednesday expanded its crackdown on illegal on-campus file-sharing to Columbia University, Dartmouth College and 21 other schools, demanding students pay as much as $5,000 to head off lawsuits.

The Recording Industry Assn. of America mailed 405 “pre-litigation letters” in the second wave of its latest campus anti-piracy campaign, the organization said. Boston University received 50, the most of any school in this round of mailings.

The letters tell administrators the e-mail addresses of the offending students or employees and ask the institutions to inform the offenders of the demand. The industry said students accounted for 26% of illegally downloaded music last year. The association sent 400 similar letters to start the crackdown earlier this month, and some have produced results.

“We have reached settlement agreements with 116 individuals and are finalizing details on a number of others,” said Jenni Engebretsen, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based group, about the earlier letters to 13 schools. She said lawsuits would be brought against those who didn’t respond.

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Other colleges targeted Wednesday include Purdue University and University of California campuses in Berkeley, Los Angeles and Santa Cruz.

“We encourage our students to recognize copyright law,” said Colin Riley, a spokesman for Boston University.

Music companies have sued more than 18,000 people in the U.S., alleging copyright infringement, in an attempt to stem declining sales. Compact disc sales have fallen more than 20% this year, market researcher Nielsen SoundScan has reported, and legal download sales haven’t made up for the loss.

More than half of U.S. college students illegally swapped music or movies online last year, accounting for more than 1.3 billion illegal downloads, the recording industry group said.


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