The RIAA announced today (Feb. 18) that it has sent legal demands to nearly 30 U.S. retail businesses it claims are selling illegal CDs and music DVDs, offering them a chance to settle claims or face

The RIAA announced today (Feb. 18) that it has sent legal demands to nearly 30 U.S. retail businesses it claims are selling illegal CDs and music DVDs, offering them a chance to settle claims or face possible lawsuits.

The letters targeted outlets in Chicago, L.A., New York and cities in Texas and Florida.

The RIAA initiated its retail anti-piracy program more than a year ago. The trade group says its investigators have uncovered a host of retailers -- including gas stations, convenience stores and grocery stores -- that are selling pirated music.

The RIAA says it has settled with many retailers, receiving "appropriate compensation" and an agreement that infringing activity will cease. The group says it has filed suit against 18 others since May 2003 and has received certain judgments, including one in Florida for nearly $2 million.

"Physical goods piracy, particularly at retail outlets, continues to be a priority for us," says Brad Buckles, executive VP/director of the RIAA's anti-piracy unit. "When we identify pirated product, we reach out to retailers to resolve these issues out of court. If retailers hawking pirated music for profit repeatedly ignore our efforts, we will hold them accountable. We need everyone to do their part to help address the piracy problem, which continues to hurt legitimate retailers, artists and songwriters, and everyone else involved in bringing music to the public."