Will you get sued by the music industry? Recording companies will begin preparing lawsuits against online file-sharers on Thursday

By Brian Hiatt
Updated June 25, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Attention, Kazaa users: If you’re sharing music files, you might be about to get sued. The Recording Industry Association said in a press release Wednesday that it’s preparing to collect data on users who offer ”substantial amounts” of copyrighted music through Kazaa and other file-sharing networks. Beginning Thursday, the industry group will begin identifying such users (presumably by subpoenaing their Internet service providers), and will start filing lawsuits against them in August. Ultimately, thousands of people may face legal action, according to the RIAA.

The RIAA didn’t specify just how many files a user would have to offer in order to qualify for a suit. But Kazaa does allow its users to turn off sharing altogether — which might be advisable for those hoping to avoid a day in court. Of course, if everyone using file-sharing networks declined to share, there’d be no one to download from — which is the point of the RIAA’s plans.

Meanwhile, in another sign that the entertainment industry is waging its anti-piracy battle more fiercely than ever, New Jersey resident Kerry Gonzalez pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal copyright infringement charge after admitting to leaking ”The Hulk” via an online chat room early this month. Universal Pictures tracked Gonzalez down and forwarded his identity to authorities, according to a press release from the film company. Let’s hope they don’t go after the film’s many critics next.