Students at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., have become the latest group to run afoul of anti-piracy regulations.

Students at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., have become the latest group to run afoul of anti-piracy regulations. Officials seized nearly 100 computers from midshipmen, the rank held by naval academy students, in order to investigate the computers' contents. The administration was acting on information gleaned from its internal database that indicated illegal downloading activities had taken place.

The academy declined further comment.

There was growing speculation that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) might have instigated the action, but this belief was strongly refuted by the trade group. "We appreciate institutions who take intellectual property theft seriously," an RIAA spokesperson said. "However, we do not dictate what their enforcement policies should be, and, in this particular instance, we do not know the facts of the case."

As an institution of higher education, the Naval Academy was one of the more than 2,300 colleges and universities that were sent two letters Oct. 3 encouraging them to establish policies against copyright infringement. One letter was from the RIAA, the Motion Picture Association of America, the National Music Publishers' Association, and the Songwriters Guild of America. The other was from six professional organizations representing higher education.

Each student entering the naval academy is issued a computer, which they pay for in installments throughout their four-year course of study. The penalties for a midshipman illegally possessing copyrighted material range from loss of privileges to a court martial.