The entertainment industry's effort to sue music and movie pirates into submission is reaching into the Internet's next generation with the filing of several hundred lawsuits yesterday against college students using a faster version of the Web called Internet2.
In the year and a half since the Recording Industry Association of America, the trade group of major music companies such as Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group, began suing Internet song-swappers, more and more college students have moved off the Web to trade music on Internet2, a separate network used by universities and colleges for sharing research and other academic works.
"This is an emerging epidemic," RIAA President Cary Sherman said yesterday. "We cannot allow a zone of lawlessness where the normal rules do not apply."
Adding yesterday's 405 suits against students at 18 schools, the RIAA has sued more than 10,000 people since its campaign began.
The Motion Picture Association of America, which represents big studios such as Warner Bros. Pictures and Walt Disney Studio Entertainment, also said yesterday that it would go after Internet2 users who illegally trade digital movies.
The MPAA would not reveal the number of suits it plans to file, saying only that it is targeting "several dozen" individuals whose names it intends to release today.
During the past year, the RIAA has been monitoring the swapping of copyrighted material, such as songs and movies, via a relatively new file-sharing program known as I2hub, which lets users trade song files for free over Internet2 networks, Sherman said.
I2hub was founded by Wayne Chang, a former executive at Napster Inc., which launched the music-swapping revolution before the entertainment industry forced it to shut down.
Yesterday, Chang said I2hub is similar to AOL Instant Messenger or Internet Relay Chat communications programs in that it permits an exchange of data between users: "We do not host any offending files on our servers," Chang said, "nor do we have an index of files."
The RIAA would not say how it infiltrated the Internet2 network but said it was alerted to its existence as a song-sharing hub by articles in college newspapers.