RIAA files 40 lawsuits against USF network users

The Recording Industry Association of America announced Wednesday that it had filed 40 copyright infringement lawsuits against users of the USF network in federal court.

In May, the RIAA sent 50 pre-litigation letters to University network users who they say illegally downloaded copyrighted music.

These letters offered the recipient an ultimatum, either settle with the RIAA out of court within 20 days for a reduced rate of around $3,000 or face litigation in open court. According to RIAA spokeswoman Liz Kennedy, the law allows organizations such as the RIAA to seek compensation of anywhere from $750 to $150,000 per copyrighted work.

Armed only with the IP addresses of alleged violators, the RIAA will file the suits under the alias John Doe.

It is USF’s policy not to release any student information unless forced by subpoena. Therefore, the RIAA files these “Doe” suits in an attempt to gain the names of University network users through the subpoenas.

These suits come as part of a larger, five-wave campaign aimed at stemming peer-to-peer sharing of copyrighted materials on university networks across the country.

USF network users first became targets of this campaign in February, and according to the Tampa Tribune, USF ranks second only to Ohio University in terms of the total number of pre-litigation letters received.

The RIAA filed 11 Doe suits similar to those faced by USF Network users in April, but according to Associate General Counsel Colin Mailoux, the University has not received any subpoenas to date.

If any information is subpoenaed, the University will comply, Mailoux said. Those network users who have been identified would then be given one last opportunity to settle out of court, Kennedy said. The rate would be higher than that offered in the pre-litigation letters but could be substantially less than what might be asked in open court.

“As time progresses the amount we ask incrementally increases,” Kennedy said.According to Kennedy, none of the cases initiated as part of the RIAA’s current campaign have gone to court.