The RIAA has sent a second wave of pre-litigation settlement letters for the major labels to universities where there is a high number of illegal file sharing today (March 21). As part of a new "deterrence and education" initiative begun last month, 405 letters went out today to 23 universities.

Each letter informs the school of a forthcoming copyright infringement suit against one of its students or personnel, and requests that university administrators forward that letter to the appropriate network user. The file sharers will then have an opportunity to resolve the claim at a discounted rate before a formal lawsuit is filed.

Today's letters were sent to: Boston University (50 letters), Columbia University (20), Dartmouth College (11), DePaul University (18), Drexel University (20), Ferris State University (17), Ithaca College (20), Purdue University (38), University of California - Berkeley (19), University of California - Los Angeles (21), University of California - Santa Cruz (17), University of Maine system (27), University of Nebraska - Lincoln (25), University of Wisconsin system (66, including the following individual campuses: Eau Claire, Madison, Milwaukee, Parkside, Platteville, Stevens Point, Stout, and Whitewater), Vanderbilt University (20), and Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (16).

"This is not our preferred course, but we hope that students will understand the consequences of stealing music and that our partners in the college community will appreciate the proactive role they can play," Cary Sherman, RIAA president said in a statement. "This is a program about defending our rights and providing the appropriate foundation for the legal marketplace to flourish. The pervasive theft of music on campus networks is nonetheless a shared problem for the industry and universities alike. The more that universities impart the right message to their students and protect the integrity of their computer networks, the less likely their students will be caught and sued for copyright theft."

According to market research firm NPD, college students alone accounted for more than 1.3 billion illegal music downloads in 2006. While college students represented only 10% of the sample in the new online NPD study, they accounted for 26% of all music downloading on P2P networks and 21% of all P2P users. College students surveyed by NPD reported that more than two-thirds of all the music they acquired was obtained illegally.

These enforcement actions come in addition to the lawsuits that the RIAA continues to file for the labels.