The US record industry has started to send letters out to universities to encourage them to dissuade their students from song-sharing.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sent 400 letters to 13 universities this week in an effort to stop file sharing at educational level. The letters advised of the potential of lawsuits for copyright infringement if students use the university networks to file share.

Reuters reports that the RIAA has indicated it wants to step up the fight against student downloaders who use educational institutions as cover for their actions. The organisation says that such downloading is hitting record numbers and forcing down profits across the record industry.

The RIAA cites a University of Richmond study as a driving factor in its lettering campaign; the study found that more than half of college students download music and movies illegally.

The letters went as far as to indicate that students could settle out of court if they admitted their file sharing now.

The RIAA has previously been much-criticised for filing high profile lawsuits against individuals and song-sharing networks like Limewire and KaZaA.