[Tech] Latest File-Sharing News

— The RIAA, the trade group representing the U.S. music industry, has filed a new round of lawsuits against 744 people for allegedly using online file-sharing networks to illegally trade in copyrighted songs. Additionally, suits covering 152 people who were previously sued anonymously but later identified and offered the chance to settle, were refiled with their true identities after they ignored or declined those offers. Those being sued used Limewire, Grokster, Kazaa, eDonkey and other platforms to swap songs. The RIAA has sued nearly 4,700 people since last September.

— Several musicians have been embracing P2P technology, most recently Sananda Maitreya, the artist formerly known as Terence Trent D’Arby. Songs from his “Angels and Vampires” project are available through Weed technology, with each song digitally packaged for copyright control, using a version of Microsoft’s WMA audio format and related digital rights management. Weed allows each person who downloads a track to play it three times free of charge, not asking for payment until the fourth try. Rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot and rockers Heart also work with Weed to distribute tracks.

— The music industry is pushing a new approach in the battle against widespread piracy: encouraging university administrations to subscribe to download services on behalf of students. In a report submitted to Congress on Tuesday by the Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities, addresses the industry’s efforts in the past year to curb illegal file-sharing, including education, enforcement and the university partnerships. Penn State is giving 15,000 free access in November to download a half-million songs, the first university to do so. 20 schools — including Wake Forest, Tulane, Purdue, and Ohio University — have climbed on board to give students free or low-cost access to music through a deal with Real Networks’ music service Rhapsody.

[Credit: Reuters]