RIAA Sues More Than 400 College Students Over Internet2 Downloads

Music News | Apr 13th, 2005

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In addition to downloading Web pages hundreds of times faster than the regular Internet, the Internet2 is apparently the fastest way to trade and download illegal copies of songs and movies.

That’s why the Recording Industry Association of
America filed lawsuits against 405 students at 18 colleges in the U.S. on Wednesday, alleging that they are using the private-research network to trade pirated songs.

Not available to the public, the 7-year-old Internet2 is accessible to nearly two million college students and is currently used mostly for educational purposes and by professionals for academic research. According to the RIAA, though, students with access to Internet2 are increasingly using a file-sharing application called i2hub to “steal copyrighted songs and other works on a massive scale,” the organization said in a statement released on Tuesday. Using this application, the RIAA said students can download an entire movie in five minutes or less and a song in 20 seconds.

“Students find i2hub especially appealing because they mistakenly believe their illegal file-sharing activities can’t be detected in the closed environment of the Internet2 network,” according to the RIAA statement.

“This next generation of the Internet is an extraordinarily exciting tool for researchers, technologists and many others with valuable legitimate uses,” said RIAA President Cary Sherman. “Yet we cannot let this high-speed network become a zone of lawlessness where the normal rules don’t apply.”

The network used by Internet2 was launched in 1998 by a nonprofit consortium of 206 universities, 70 corporate partners (including IBM and Microsoft) and a number of government agencies, including the Library of Congress, to develop the next generation of Internet technologies. It has proven to be a boon for researchers because of its speed, which is anywhere from 100 to 1,000 times faster than commercial Internet connections. Studies have shown that Internet2 can be used to download a DVD-quality copy of “The Matrix” in 30 seconds, versus the 20 hours it would take on the Internet.

There are currently 4 million users, and according to Internet2 executive director Laurie Burns, each has to sign an agreement that prohibits using the network for illegal activities. Burns said Internet2’s CEO was not informed until Monday night of the RIAA’s plans for filing lawsuits and the organization has not been told how the RIAA was able to track the alleged infringers. “We really don’t know how they did it,” Burns said. “But it’s not through any direct monitoring of our network and in no way did we allow them to do that.” An RIAA spokesperson said the organization does not discuss its enforcement measures.

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