The Recording Industry Association of America filed lawsuits against 89 individual computer users from 21 different universities Tuesday for illegally downloading copyrighted music on peer-to-peer networks, the RIAA said.

Targets of the lawsuit by the record company trade group include users from the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, Georgetown University; and New York University. Lawsuits were also filed against 443 other illegal file sharers.

“It is important for everyone to understand that no one is immune from the consequences that come from illegally sharing music files,” RIAA spokeswoman Amanda Cooper said.

Cooper said it was the first time university network users had been sued for sharing songs on peer-to-peer networks. No users at Yale or any other Connecticut university were sued in this round of litigation but Cooper said the RIAA will continue to file suits of this type.

The RIAA does not know whether the users are students, faculty, administrators or staff, Cooper said. Continuing to use a recent tactic, the trade group filed “John Doe” lawsuits against the users, suing IP addresses instead of names. The RIAA will now subpoena Internet service providers, in this case the universities, to discover the names.

Cooper said the RIAA expects the universities to provide the users’ names.

“They’re under the same obligation that commercial ISPs are,” Cooper said.

— Tom Sullivan