RIAA Launches More Lawsuits Against File-Sharers

Gretchen Gallen
WASHINGTON – The Recording Industry Association came out swinging Monday morning after filing copyright infringement lawsuits against 493 alleged file-sharers.

Those new filings bring the RIAA's tally up to 3,000, recording industry officials announced.

The RIAA, the official trade group for record companies, launched a bold initiative eight months ago in an attempt to put a stop to file-sharing over the Internet, which it claims is fostering generation of younger people that believe downloading copyrighted content off the Internet is a fair and legal practice.

The RIAA has so far settled 400 cases against file-sharers for a reported $3,000 each. The organization represents Warner Music Group, Bertelsmann AG, EMI Group, Sony Music, and Vivendi Universal's Universal Music Group.

"We will continue to go the extra mile and seek to resolve these cases in a fair and reasonable manner," RIAA President Cary Sherman said in a statement.

In December 2003, Verizon Communications took the RIAA to court over its litigation tactics against file-sharers and won.

The RIAA had originally been able to force Internet Service Provide to turn over identifying information on alleged file-sharers. But a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned an earlier ruling and determined that if the RIAA was going to pursue file-sharers, it could only file lawsuits against their Internet addresses, without knowledge of their names or addresses.

The appeals court decision was expected to be a significant setback for the RIAA's aggressive strategy to prosecute file-sharers, but the trade group has plowed ahead and filed hundreds of "John Doe" lawsuits since, discovering the identities of its defendants at a later date through court-issued subpoenas.