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Last Updated:  Friday, 4 April, 2003, 22:43 GMT 23:43 UK
Students sued in piracy battle
University library, BBC
Pirated music allegedly being stored on campuses
The music industry is taking its fight against music piracy to college and university campuses.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has filed lawsuits against four US university students it alleges have been operating file-search and swapping services on campus computer networks.

The swapping systems allegedly let students attending the universities swap files between themselves instead of across the wider internet.

The music industry group has long claimed that students are among the keenest swappers of pirated music.

'Napster networks'

The lawsuits have been filed against two students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, one at Princeton University in New Jersey and one at Michigan Technological University.

The RIAA alleges that the students have been responsible for installing software that lets people at the institutes search the computers of other students and swap music with them.

Compact disc carousel, Eyewire
Many people are making their own mix discs
The industry group called the isolated search and swapping systems "'local area Napster networks," comparing them to the pioneering peer-to-peer network that made it easy for people to swap music tracks.

Connections to cross-campus computer networks are likely to run much faster than those most people have to the wider internet and are popular on many university campuses.

The networks the RIAA is targeting are thought to be based around three software programs called Flatlan, Phynd and Direct Connect.

These programs work in different ways but generally allow people to search and catalogue the files they find on machines sharing the same computer network.

The RIAA also claims that the students involved with these networks were maintaining large libraries of MP3 files that they allowed others to search and download.

According to the RIAA, the networks gave access to a store of more than 2.5 million files. The biggest network it is targeting had about a million files of its own, said the industry body.

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