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UC-Berkeley Students Face Tougher Piracy Rules

As part of its war on pirated music and videos, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is opening up a new front at the resident halls of the University of California-Berkeley's campus. Starting this fall semester, students using campus computer networks to illegally download copyrighted audio and visual materials will automatically lose their in-room Internet connection for a minimum of one week, the university has announced. "It's our job to make sure students who live in the residence halls fully understand the consequences of illegal file-sharing," said Dedra Chamberlin, manager of residential computing services at the university. "We don't want students to end up facing a lawsuit or $3,000 fine saying, 'Why didn't anyone warn me about this?'."

The music industry group has already sent more than 2,000 letters to students across the country this year, including to 16 at UC-Berkeley, alerting the individuals that they have downloaded audio files illegally. The letters provide the students with a choice: pay an early settlement fee of $3,000 to $6,000 or face possible litigation. The pre-litigation letters are part of a broad education and deterrence campaign that the association launched early this year, according to a statement released by the association: "The new process gives students the opportunity to resolve copyright infringement claims against them at a discounted rate before a formal lawsuit is filed."

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