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"The court ruled that Napster was illegal and shut it down. These systems are just as illegal and operate in just the same manner. And just like Napster, they hurt artists, musicians, songwriters, those who invest in their work and the thousands of others who work to bring music to the public."
——Cary Sherman, RIAA President
RIAA TARGETS COLLEGE PIRATES
Trade Group Files Lawsuits Against Operators of Four Napster-Like Internal Campus Networks
Moving to combat a growing piracy trend on college campuses, the RIAA Thursday filed lawsuits against the operators of four Napster-like internal campus networks that allegedly illegally distribute millions of copyrighted songs.

The targeted systems operate similarly to Napster, but instead of being open to anyone with access to the Internet, they reside on the internal LANs of the schools.

"These systems are best described as 'local area Napster networks,’" said Cary Sherman, RIAA President. "The court ruled that Napster was illegal and shut it down. These systems are just as illegal and operate in just the same manner. And just like Napster, they hurt artists, musicians, songwriters, those who invest in their work and the thousands of others who work to bring music to the public.

"This is a particularly flagrant way to illegally distribute millions of copyrighted works over the Internet," added Sherman. "The people who run these Napster networks know full well what they are doing. The lawsuits we've filed represent an appropriate step, given the seriousness of the offense."

Those named in the suits make use of software known variously as Flatlan, Phynd or Direct Connect. All of them work much like Napster, centrally indexing and processing search requests for copyrighted works. And they permit users to download any of those works with the single click. Because of the sophistication of the technology and the expertise needed to install and manage such systems, network operators can't help but be aware of the copyright infringement they facilitate, the suits say. The network operators sued are from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Princeton University and Michigan Technological University.

In addition, each of the accused operators has loaded up his service with hundreds—and in some cases, thousands—of copyrighted works. The RIAA contends that given their bandwidth and high-speed connections, college computer networks are a frequent haven for illegal file-copying. As a result, many have become so clogged—often because of file-copying by users from outside of the college community—that such legitimate uses of the network as email or academic research have dramatically slowed.

"We hope that these suits serve as a stiff deterrent to anyone who is operating or considering setting up a similar system," said Sherman.

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