Music companies target colleges in latest effort against downloads

Thursday, February 22, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Cracking down on college students, the music industry is sending thousands more complaints to top universities this school year than it did last year as it targets music illegally downloaded over campus computer networks.

A few schools, including Ohio and Purdue universities, already have received more than 1,000 complaints accusing individual students since last fall -- significant increases over the past school year. For students who are caught, punishments vary from e-mail warnings to semester suspensions from classes.

The trade group for the largest music labels, the Recording Industry Association of America, identified the 25 universities that received the most copyright complaints it sent so far this school year. The group long has pressured schools to act more aggressively against online pirates on campus.

"It's something we feel we have to do," RIAA president Cary Sherman said. "We have to let people know that if they engage in this activity, they are not anonymous."

The top five schools are Ohio, Purdue, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Tennessee and the University of South Carolina. The RIAA complained about almost 15,000 students at those 25 universities, nearly triple the number for the previous school year.

Under federal law, universities that receive complaints about students illegally distributing copyrighted songs generally must act to stop repeat offenders or else the schools can be sued.

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