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The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has attacked again, and this time against some of our most promising young minds.

The Pigopolist mob has filed lawsuits against four university students for setting up music-sharing P2P networks at their respective institutions of higher education. Two students attend the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), one goes to Michigan Technological University and the last studies at Princeton.

Yes, even the Ivy Leagues are under siege.

"The perpetrators of these internal Napster networks . . . make use of software known variously as Flatlan, Phynd or Direct Connect," the RIAA said. "All of them work much like Napster, centrally indexing and processing search requests for copyrighted works. And they permit users to download any of those works with the single click of a mouse."

Backed by the major music labels, the RIAA is seeking $150,000 per infringed song.

Like the dangerous undergrads, the music companies have faced stiff fines. Last year, five of the largest labels paid $67.4 million in cash and coughed up $75.7 million in CDs to clear a price-fixing lawsuit backed by 41 states.

The RIAA suggests in its press release that anyone with knowledge of these types of illegal networks should call its piracy hotline at 1-800-BAD-BEAT. Although when we called in to report a P2P crime in progress, we were placed on an endless hold.

The use of any kind of technical wizardry to discover the culprits seems somewhat ironic given the RIAA's troubles in dealing with technology. The organization has barely managed to keep its Web site up for more than a day at time.

Perhaps, the hackers could set up a part-time gig keeping the RIAA's servers up as restitution for their evil deeds.

More importantly, the RIAA is bucking a time-honored tradition of committing illegal acts while at college. What would happen to the fabric of our educational structure if police actually cracked down on underage drinkers, sexual deviants and drug abusers?

Collegians would be forced to study in sober dorm rooms void of music -- a most un-American act.

These particular students took it upon themselves to provide their peers with massive collections of song, while the RIAA floods trading networks with fake files. And you can be sure that the students respect the integrity of the artists they promote by not "enchancing" the files with clicks, dropouts and white noise.

So it would seem, once again, that the pirates are actually doing more to promote music than the recording industry itself. ®

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