RIAA changes tactics, wants ISPs to help fight music pirates

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RIAA changes tactics, wants ISPs to help fight music pirates

Richmond (VA) – The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is reporting today that music companies and associations, like the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), will stop going after music pirates directly. No longer will there be targeted lawsuits against individuals for music piracy, though some of the 35,000 suits filed to date remain open. The WSJ cites critics who claim such actions did little to stem piracy. Instead, RIAA will focus on efforts which operate directly with ISPs. First warnings, then disconnect.

Incremental warnings before disconnect

The WSJ article says:

“Instead, the Recording Industry Association of America said it plans to try an approach that relies on the cooperation of Internet-service providers. The trade group said it has hashed out preliminary agreements with major ISPs under which it will send an email to the provider when it finds a provider’s customers making music available online for others to take.

Depending on the agreement, the ISP will either forward the note to customers, or alert customers that they appear to be uploading music illegally, and ask them to stop. If the customers continue the file-sharing, they will get one or two more emails, perhaps accompanied by slower service from the provider. Finally, the ISP may cut off their access altogether.”

The RIAA already has agreements in place with some “principle ISPs,” but declined to say which ones. There may be more incentive now to work with companies like the RIAA as individual networks have found custom agreements with various companies quite lucrative in recent years.

Said Eric Garland, president of BigChampagne LLC (a piracy consulting company), “It isn’t clear that the new strategy will work or how effective the collaboration with the ISPs will be. There isn’t any silver-bullet anti-piracy solution.”

The RIAA’s chairman, Mitch Bainwol, believes “The RIAA believes the new strategy will reach more people, which itself is a deterrent.” He said, “Part of the issue with infringement is for people to be aware that their actions are not anonymous.”

The RIAA has stated that piracy “would have been even worse without the lawsuits.” Still, hard music sales have continued to fall. In 2003 there were 656 million albums sold. In 2007, it was only 500 million in hard CDs and digital albums. 884 million additional single-song downloads were paid for, however.