Internet Law

RIAA to Stop Suing Over Music Downloads; ISPs are New Copyright Cops

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Ending a controversial enforcement effort in which it appeared to be fighting something of a losing battle, the Recording Industry Association of America says it will stop suing consumers over illegal music downloads via the Internet.

“The decision represents an abrupt shift of strategy for the industry, which has opened legal proceedings against about 35,000 people since 2003,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “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.”

Instead of using lawsuits as leverage to try to protect music copyrights, the RIAA now plans a more practical enforcement effort concerning illegal downloads. With the help of Internet service providers, those who repeatedly download music illegally and ignore ISP warnings are expected to have their Internet service first slowed down and then stopped entirely, the newspaper explains.

Under the new enforcement plan, ISPs can cooperate with RIAA concerns about illegal downloads and warn customers about apparent copyright violations without revealing their identity.

The prospect of having ISPs as copyright cops, however, isn’t music to the ears of a number of technology bloggers.

“Why can’t the RIAA and its label cronies stop with the fear of the Web already and just embrace online realities?” writes Don Reisinger on the Digital Home. “A number of independent artists, as well as better-known bands like Radiohead have done extremely well offering their songs for free and asking for donations whenever people feel compelled to do so.”

Additional Coverage:

PC Magazine: “RIAA Taking Piracy Fight to ISPs”

Seattle Tech Report (Post-Intelligencer): “RIAA shuts down its lawsuit machine”

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