RIAA sends warnings to universities<br /><br />

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WASHINGTON -- The record industry Wednesday continued its controversial effort to stop campus music piracy as it sent off more than 400 prelitigation settlement letters to 21 universities.

In February, the RIAA launched a new front in its effort to stem piracy by college students, who the association says often use university computer systems to illegally download music.

The deterrence and education initiatives are coupled with a new process that gives students the opportunity to resolve copyright-infringement claims against them at a discounted rate before a formal lawsuit is filed, the RIAA said.

Each prelitigation settlement letter informs the school of a forthcoming copyright-infringement suit against one of its students or personnel and requests that university administrators forward that letter to the appropriate network user.

While the program hasn't been without controversy, the RIAA said it welcomes the debate.

"Without question, this new enforcement initiative has invigorated a meaningful conversation on college campuses about music theft, its consequences and the numerous ways to enjoy legal music," said Steven Marks, executive vp and general counsel for the RIAA. "The question we ask of students is this: With high-quality legal music options available for free or deeply discounted, why take the twin risks of exposing your computer to viruses or spyware by downloading from an illegal site or exposing yourself to a costly lawsuit?"
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