RIAA No Longer Prosecuting Individuals

Dennis Faas's picture

According to reports, the Record Industry Association of America, or RIAA, is changing its strategy for prosecuting illegal peer-to-peer downloaders. The group will now work with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) rather than attacking individuals.

A few years ago, it got very scary for those actively downloading illegal music online. In 2006, the Record Industry Association of America began picking off individuals caught in the act with often devastating results; we all remember the case of Jammie Thomas, the Minnesota single mother found guilty of downloading a handful of songs and subsequently fined over $200,000. (Source: wired.com)

However, despite the fear these events instilled in some, many peer-to-peer downloaders continued their assault on copyright without so much as a 'harumph'. Let's face it, the RIAA strategy of attacking suspects individually was more for effect than effective, and changes are long overdue.

So, what's the new strategy?

As first reported by the Wall Street Journal, it seems the RIAA is working with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in an attempt to sign voluntary "graduated response" agreements with most ISPs. These vary based on where the ISP is located. (Source: slashdot.org)

You see, although ISPs in France and England aren't yet legally required by the government to play along with copyright groups, it's expected that this will change. However, in the US of A, it doesn't seem very likely that ISPs will be forced to play along with the RIAA.

So, why should ISPs bother?

An attack on peer-to-peer downloaders has one very significant benefit to Internet Service Providers: it opens their airways. When Internet subscribers download music, movies, and TV from web sites, it clogs up bandwidth and congests the ISP's networks, particularly those that are cable-based. (Source: arstechnica.com)

Thus, the door is open to ISPs to set out comprehensive caps on bandwidth and to monitor its subscribers. For its part, the RIAA will no longer pursue the kind of lawsuits like we saw in the Thomas case.

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