CYBERSPACE, 2005 (D.O.T.) - The super-fast ''Internet2'' network that connects universities researching the next-generation Internet is also apparently popular among college students who download pirated music and movies.
Entertainment groups said they intend to sue hundreds of students accused of illegally distributing copyrighted songs and films across college campuses using the private research network, which boasts speeds hundreds of times faster than the regular public Internet.
How much faster? Internet2 researchers once demonstrated they can download a DVD-quality copy of the popular movie ''The Matrix'' in 30 seconds over their network, a feat they said would take roughly 25 hours over the Internet.
The Recording Industry Association of America, the trade group for the largest labels, is filing federal lawsuits against 405 students at 18 colleges with access to the super-fast Internet2 network. The Motion Picture Association of America is also filing an unspecified number of lawsuits against Internet2 users.
The recording industry said it found evidence of more illegal activity at 140 more schools in 41 states and sent warning letters to university presidents. Internet2 is used by several million university students, researchers and professionals around the world but is generally inaccessible to the public.
''We don't condone or support illegal file-sharing,'' said Internet2's chief executive, Doug Van Houweling. ''We've always understood that just like there is a lot of file-sharing happening on the public Internet, there's also file-sharing happening on Internet2.''
The recording industry said some students were illegally sharing across Internet2 as many as 13,600 music files - far more than most public Internet users - and that the average number of songs offered illegally by the students was 2,300 each.
''We cannot let this high-speed network become a zone of lawlessness where the normal rules don't apply,'' said Cary Sherman, president of the recording association.
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