The Recording Institute of Association of America (RIAA) will begin "gathering evidence" of illegal file-sharing activity to be used against consumers in hundreds of lawsuits, beginning today.
The RIAAs first targets will be those who share "substantial" amounts of copyrighted material, the organization said. The first lawsuits are expected in early August.
"Once we begin our evidence-gathering process, any individual computer user who continues to offer music illegally to millions of others will run the very real risk of facing legal action in the form of civil lawsuits that will cost violators thousands of dollars and potentially subject them to criminal prosecution," said Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA, in a statement.
The RIAA will apparently target those that actually provide the files for download. To gather evidence against P2P users who make illegal downloading possible, the RIAA will be using software that scans the public directories available to any user of a peer-to-peer network.
These directories, which allow users to find the material they are looking for, list all the files that other users of the network are currently offering to distribute. When the software finds a user who is offering to distribute copyrighted music files, it downloads some of the infringing files, along with the date and time it accessed the files.