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RIAA to Cease Controversial Lawsuits Against Music “Pirates”
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RIAA toilet paperFantastic! After years of ruining people’s lives by suing them for exorbitant sums of money because they might have downloaded songs illegally, the Recording Industry Association of America is changing tactics, and will no longer harass individuals with “sham litigation.”

Suck on that, Lars Ulrich!

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

  
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The decision represents an abrupt shift of strategy for the industry, which has opened legal proceedings against about 35,000 people since 2003. Critics say the legal offensive ultimately did little to stem the tide of illegally downloaded music. And it created a public-relations disaster for the industry, whose lawsuits targeted, among others, several single mothers, a dead person and a 13-year-old girl.

The ISP will either forward the notice 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 said it has agreements in principle with some ISPs, but declined to say which ones. But ISPs, which are increasingly cutting content deals of their own with entertainment companies, may have more incentive to work with the music labels now than in previous years.

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The new approach dispenses with one of the most contentious parts of the lawsuit strategy, which involved filing lawsuits requiring ISPs to disclose the identities of file sharers. Under the new strategy, the RIAA would forward its emails to the ISPs without demanding to know the customers’ identity.

Over the summer, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo began brokering an agreement between the recording industry and the ISPs that would address both sides’ piracy concerns. “We wanted to end the litigation,” said Steven Cohen, Cuomo’s chief of staff. “It’s not helpful.”



Music sales continue to fall. In 2003, the industry sold 656 million albums. In 2007, the number fell to 500 million CDs and digital albums, plus 844 million paid individual song downloads — hardly enough to make up the decline in album sales.

Via WSJ Tech via GamePolitics.



 

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