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Like a Bizzaro World Ed McMahon, the RIAA pursues colleges across the US with pre-litigation settlement letters.

The Recording Industry Association of America has begun its second wave of unfriendly correspondence, offering easy settlements at "discounted" prices to college students they suspect of sharing music online. Four hundred and five letters were sent to 23 universities nationwide last week.

The RIAA officially became the worst pen-pal ever late February when it sent 400 letters to 13 universities as a part of a new campaign against piracy. To complement the letters, the association set up a website at p2plawsuits.com where the accused-on-the-go can pay the RIAA not to sue them by personal check or credit card (MasterCard, Visa and Discover accepted — sorry American Express!).

Although the association boasts 116 students have used their new website to settle, the remaining 71 per cent have yet to take the bait.

“We’re encouraged by the response of universities that are forwarding the pre-litigation settlement letters to students," said Steven Marks, Executive VP for the RIAA, "Not every student will take advantage of this opportunity, but those that do get the benefit of a discounted settlement and no public mark on their record.”

Of the universities solicited, only The University of Nebraska refused to forward the letters to its students. The U of N complained the RIAA could only identify 9 out of the 36 students the RIAA was ready to sue, and expected the university to track down the remaining students on its own coin.

Since September 2003, 17,587 individuals have been sued by the RIAA. That's a hefty average rate of 418.7 people per month. ®

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