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Last Updated: Friday, 2 May, 2003, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Students face download damages
The RIAA is the most influential music trade group in the US

Four US students have agreed to pay damages after the American music industry's trade group sued them for making money from illegal downloading.

Daniel Peng, Joseph Nievelt, Jesse Jordan and Aaron Sherman also agreed not to illegally distribute copyrighted music, although they did not admit to any wrongdoing.

The men were accused of running an online music swapping service similar to Napster, which was ordered to shut down in 2001 following lawsuits brought by major record labels.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said the defendants stored more than one million songs on central servers at their colleges so that people could access them from the universities' high-speed internet networks.

The colleges were not named in the lawsuit.

The four students will pay between $12,000 (7,500) and $17,500 (11,000) each to the RIAA, although the industry body had originally sought damages for $150,000 (93,000) per song.

RIAA executive Matt Oppenheim said it was "in everyone's best interest to come to a quick resolution".

The industry believes the lawsuit has led to at least 18 other similar downloading services at universities shutting down since the case began on 3 April.


"The message is clearly getting through that distributing copyrighted works without permission is illegal, can have consequences and that we will move quickly and effectively to enforce our rights," said Mr Oppenheim.

Daniel Peng's lawyer, Howard Ende, called the lawsuit "outrageous."

"I don't think the suit was really about him, it was about sending a message, a message meant to intimidate," he added.

Mr Jordan's father said his son was innocent but did not want his son to get involved in further legal action.

"The furthest thing from his mind is trying to steal copyrights," said Andy Jordan.

The RIAA took music and video company Technicolor to court in Los Angeles last month for copying and distributing pirated records of the likes of 'N Sync, Backstreet Boys, Celine Dion and Lauryn Hill.

Technicolor denies the charges and says it will fight the case brought by the RIAA - the most influential music trade group in the US.

The association represents big players in the US recording industry.

These include major labels like Warner Music Group, Universal Music, Sony, EMI and Bertelsmann.

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