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December 22, 2008

RIAA axes file-sharing lawsuits

Posted: 10:35 AM ET

Those of you who regularly share music over the Internet, legally or illegally, have by now heard the news that the Recording Industry Association of America is shelving the practice of filing lawsuits against most individuals it suspects are pirating copyrighted music online.

As CD sales decline, more and more people get their music online.

I say most because the RIAA still reserves the right to sue heavy file sharers or those who ignore warnings to stop. Now, the RIAA has a new tactic. It’s made agreements with several Internet service providers in which the ISPs will help them police alleged law-breakers.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the RIAA will send a letter to an ISP when it thinks one of its customers is illegally sharing copyrighted music. The ISP will either forward the letter to the alleged offender or ask him to stop.

If the file-sharer ignores the warning, he risks having his Internet service terminated or his bandwidth squeezed to the point where it takes watching the entire “Lord of the Rings” trilogy before all 10 tracks of Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” are illegally in his possession. Ouch.

So why the switch? The RIAA has sued some 30,000 people over the past five years, a tactic that's proved expensive and , critics argue, largely ineffective. I mean, have you stopped sharing your music library since the lawsuits began? I didn’t think so. And you’re not alone. While CD sales continue to decline, the number of folks sharing files online continues to increase.

This new deal makes me nervous because now, your ISP is poised to become an uptight hall monitor who narcs on every kid who smokes in the bathroom, instead of looking the other way even though it knows what you’re doing is against the rules. I think ISPs should remain neutral.

Nervous? Maybe you should be. Maybe you shouldn’t.

You could continue to share copyrighted songs online, hoping you’ll never be caught. At the very least, perhaps you should look to the Electronic Frontiers Foundation’s advice on how to avoid trouble.

There’s a decent chance you’ll never feel the RIAA’s tap on your shoulder. Plus, the way things are, I have no doubt word will spread quickly on how to cloak file-sharing so the ISPs and the RIAA can’t see what you’re up to.

The bottom line: Sharing copyrighted material online without the copyright holder’s permission is against the law. I quote Dirty Harry, “You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

- Stephen Walsh, CNN.com

Filed under: computers • Internet


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Franko   January 6th, 2009 3:25 pm ET

RIAA due diligence is the fault
Without a silicon chip implanted in your brain
How can RIAA claim to have put up a fence to make good neighbours ?


chris from quebec   January 7th, 2009 10:26 am ET

Behold the musical police state!!! How Orwellian. While the industry is going from lawsuit to lawsuit, ineffective policing to clunky copyguard software, none have yet to address the central issue on hand. CD's are an overly expensive, outdated media form. Not to mention the music contained therein. Most people download music because of the ease of transfer to their mp3 player, or because Coldplay, while a good band, does not deserve my hard earned 25$. Oh, but wait! They don't get 25$, they might get 1.50$ per CD sold. Where does the rest of the money go? Gone are the days of powerhouse studios that charged 250$ / hour (1985 rate, imagine today!) when most if not more of what these megalomaniac recording facilities is easily obtainable as software that can run on the most pedestrian of computers. Oh, I forgot, you can also download the software on P2P as well. What a dismal state of affairs. What the industry needs to do is push the technology further into 7.1 surround, cut costs of CD's or DVD's as may be the case, and make it worthwhile to buy a new product that will deliver so much more than a cheap mp3 rip off would give. Just like in the old days when you could dub everything to audio tape, but you still got the record because of the better sound quality and (for us musico nuts) great sleeve artwork.


Art M.   January 7th, 2009 8:39 pm ET

I bought the music – it's MINE to do with as I please. The RIAA can jump in a lake if they don't like it.


Trevor   January 9th, 2009 2:20 pm ET

Isn't that how DMCA complaints are supposed to work? Extortion and protection schemes were the wrong way to go about it.


Franko   January 13th, 2009 12:12 am ET

Corporations, entities with unlimited legal resources,
Vesus the underpaid donkey, nursing his pain, with a song guilt obtained

In the process, very few musicians make money
But 70% of US have the pleasure of feeling guilty


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