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RIAA steps up file-trading suits

The Recording Industry Association of America picked up the pace of its legal attack on Net music swappers Tuesday, filing copyright infringement suits against another 531 individuals.

As with the last round of suits, filed in early January, the latest wave comes without names attached. Under a legal ruling handed down last year, the RIAA must file suits in court before it can approach Internet service providers (ISPs) for information that links alleged file-swapping evidence to the subscriber names on a given ISP account. That hasn't stopped the group's legal machine from churning out evidence of copyright infringement, however. With the total number of people sued now approaching 1,500, the trade association says its legal action continues to be necessary to protect the growth of services like Apple Computer's iTunes and other authorized music outlets.

"Legal online music services...shouldn't have to compete with businesses based on illegal downloading," RIAA President Cary Sherman said in a statement. "That's why we are sending a clear message that downloading or 'sharing' music from a peer-to-peer network without authorization is illegal, it can have consequences, and it undermines the creative future of music itself." The record label group has accelerated the pace of its legal action considerably, filing more than 1,000 lawsuits since the beginning of 2004, compared with less than half that amount in the last four months of 2003. The increased pace comes after evidence arose early in January that the initial dissuasive effects of the RIAA's legal threats were wearing off. At that time, a report from Internet monitor The NPD Group said music trading through networks such as Kazaa had begun rising again by last November, after steep drops earlier in the year.

News source: C|Net News.com

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