405 students accused of using i2hub for trading.

The RIAA has decided to sue college students who use the high-speed university network known as Internet2 to get their music for free. The trade group announced today (April 12) that it will file copyright infringement lawsuits tomorrow against 405 students at 18 U.S. colleges who use Internet2's file-sharing application, known as "i2hub," to download music files on what officials say is "a massive scale."

"This next generation of the Internet is an extraordinarily exciting tool for researchers, technologists and many others with valuable legitimate uses," RIAA president Cary Sherman says. "Yet we cannot let this high-speed network become a zone of lawlessness where the normal rules don't apply."

The RIAA says it has evidence of i2hub infringement at another 140 schools in 41 states. While these schools were not included in the initial round of lawsuits, Sherman says letters are being sent to each university president, allerting them to the illegal activity occurring on their campuses on both Internet2 and centralized piracy servers often set up by students on a school's local area network.

While evidence of infringing activity on i2hub is extensive, the RIAA has chosen to limit the number of lawsuits to 25 per school at this time.

According to the RIAA, the students being sued were sharing 1.5 million total music, video and software files, of which more than were 930,000 music files. The average number of music files shared by users being sued is more than 2,300. Some users have shared as many as 13,600, according to the RIAA.

Partly as a result of joint committee partnership with higher-education leaders begun more than two years ago, 40 colleges and universities now offer legitimate online music services, and others are experimenting with filtering technology to reduce the incidence of illegal activity.

"Without question, the joint committee's efforts to respond to the issue of illegal P2P file-sharing on campus networks continue to yield significant dividends," Sherman says. "In order to maintain the gains we've made, we must move quickly to address this new threat emerging from i2hub and similar applications."