Contributed by SydBarrett420, Posted by Politics

According to the University of South Florida (USF) publication The Oracle, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have announced filing "John Doe" lawsuits against over 400 students at schools nation-wide who are accused of illegally downloading or sharing copyrighted materials using university networks and IP addresses.

The "John Doe" lawsuit is filed in an effort to obtain personal information about owners of the IP addresses from the service provider in order to file a personal lawsuit against the individual, after first attempting to reach a monetary settlement agreement. USF, like most schools, considers student information personal, but will assist the RIAA by providing names of those IP address holders to avoid any association with possible infractions of the law.

This February, the RIAA sent 400 pre-litigation letters to students at 13 universities, giving students the chance to settle with the RIAA within 20 days or face legal action. Reports indicate 119 students of those 400 have settled. Says Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the RIAA Steven Marks:

We have no choice but to take the problem of campus music theft seriously. Our ability to invest in new bands and new music is seriously threatened by online theft - a problem that remains particularly acute on college campuses. We are now giving students the opportunity to settle the claims against them during a pre-litigation period. Yet students who do not take advantage of this new process should understand that lawsuits are sure to follow.