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Students Settle File-Swapping Case

The recording industry said Thursday it had settled federal lawsuits against four college students it accused of making thousands of songs available online for illegal downloading.

The students agreed to pay damages of between $12,000 and $17,500 each and not illegally distribute copyrighted music, the Recording Industry Association of America said in a statement. None of the students admitted wrongdoing.

The lawsuits, filed April 3, marked an aggressive step by the industry to go after individuals engaging in what it sees as online music piracy. It had previously sued only file-sharing services, where most illegal copying and swapping of copyright works takes place.

The RIAA said the defendants - students at Princeton University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Michigan Technological University - stored a total of more than 1 million songs on central servers and made them available to people with access to their schools' high-speed Internet networks. The schools were not named in the lawsuits.

The RIAA originally sought damages of $150,000 per song, but Matt Oppenheim, the group's senior vice president of business and legal affairs, said it was "in everyone's best interest to come to a quick resolution."

Oppenheim added that the defendants "now clearly understand the seriousness with which we view this type of illegal behavior."

By Alex Veiga