US record companies and movie studios are suing hundreds of students they say have illegally shared songs and films over the high-speed Internet2 network.
Internet2 was created for academic use such as medical research
Some 207 US universities are connected to Internet2, on which a film can be downloaded in 30 seconds, compared with six hours over a high-speed phone line.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has sued 405 students it says have shared files on the network.
The film industry's trade body declined to say how many students it is suing.
But the body, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), said users had swapped films amounting to 99 terabytes in a single day - the equivalent of an entire video rental store.
The music fans each made an average of 3,900 songs available on the network, the RIAA said.
"Internet2 is increasingly becoming the network of choice for students looking to steal songs and other copyrighted works on a massive scale," RIAA president Cary Sherman said.
Internet2 was designed as an academic network for use in fields such as medicine and weather forecasting.
An Internet2 spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times that copyright infringement was expressly forbidden under its rules.
The RIAA has sued more than 9,000 people for distributing songs using peer-to-peer software like Grokster and Morpheus in the past two years.
The MPAA started suing individuals in November.