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New Batch of RIAA ‘Settlement’ Letters Sent to Campuses May Be Biggest Yet

The Recording Industry Association of America late last week fired off 569 “pre-litigation settlement letters” to university students whom it suspected of pirating music. It appears to be the largest batch of letters sent since the RIAA launched an expanded campaign in February 2007.

Most previous waves of letters targeted around 400 students each, according to press releases on the RIAA’s site. Students who receive such letters are identified after investigators hired by the RIAA download music available on the students’ computers, RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy said. Whether making a song “available” constitutes copyright infringement has been questioned in several recent court decisions.

Upon receiving the letters, students have the option of paying the RIAA several thousand dollars to avoid going to court and potentially facing higher penalties. Mr. Lamy said the latest wave of letters was unrelated to bills in Congress that would revamp copyright infringement penalties and university requirements for curbing on-campus file-sharing.

Twenty-six institutions received letters last week. Here’s a full count of the letters each institution received, courtesy of RIAA spokeswoman Cara Duckworth:

University of Texas at Austin, 75
University of Tennessee at Knoxville, 74
University of Washington, 36
University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, 35
Iowa State University, 32
Central Michigan University, 31
Columbia University, 26
University of Georgia, 26
Yale University, 26
University of Nebraska at Lincoln, 22
Cornell University, 21
University of California at Davis, 20
Drexel University, 19
Florida State University, 18
University of California at Santa Barbara, 18
University of Pennsylvania, 18
University of New Mexico, 15
Duke University, 14
University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, 12
University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, 9
University of California at Merced, 8
University of Wisconsin at Madison, 6
University of Wisconsin-Stout, 5
University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, 1
University of Wisconsin-Parkside, 1
University of Wisconsin at River Falls, 1

Officials from several universities not on this list have also recently reported sizable increases in the number of letters they’ve received.—Catherine Rampell

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