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Keith McCord ReportingStarting today, the recording industry is beginning to crack down on computer users who have downloaded music from the Internet.
Music industry lawyers say they will file lawsuits against those who have large collections of music files.
According to the record companies, 50-million people in the U.S. alone illegally download music and then share those files with other computer users. Millions of songs every day for free! And the recording industry has had it.
Finding music to download onto your computer is easy, thanks to several Internet sites. With a couple of mouse clicks, users can access everything from Norah Jones to the Beach Boys.
Free music, 24-hours a day. Some people simply play the songs on their computers. Others take a whole batch of songs, and then make their own CD. These web sites allow computer users to share their music files with each other.
Enough people are doing this right now that music stores are seeing a decline in sales. So, this week the Recording Industry Association of America announced it will start going after those who have large collections of free songs.
The organization says finding the offenders is easy. Frank Creighton, R.I.A.A.: "Because they're public, there are tools we can utilize to identify, not just the infringing material being offered up, but the individuals offering that infringing material."
Downloading music has become a real issue at universities, which have very fast computer networks. But so many students do it, the networks get bogged down.
Kevin Taylor, Univ. of Utah Office of Information Technology: "They go to these download sites, and download it over our networks and literally they can fill up the bandwidth."
Earlier this year, the University of Utah sent letters to students and staff members discouraging them from getting their music online. Those who get caught, have their campus Internet service temporarily shut off.
Kevin Taylor, Univ. of Utah Office of Information Technology: "We want them to know better. So we educate them, and have them sign an agreement of understanding that they know that this is not legal, and it's against the university's policy. "
The recording industry will go after those who have "large" files of downloaded music, but it won't specify how many songs that is. Penalties? Well, U.S. Copyright laws say guilty offenders could get fined as much as 150-thousand dollars per song!
So, mom and dad, you might check and see what's on your kid’s computer!