RIAA to Quit Suing File-Sharers, Wants ISPs to Disconnect Instead

“Peace in our time” – 10 years later the music industry’s highly controversial strategy of suing individuals for illegal file-sharing has come to an end, wants ISPs to adopt a three-strikes policy.

I’ve read the article in the Wall Street Journal three times already and I still can’t believe it. For 10 years, some 35,000 people, and wasted tens of millions of dollars later, it seems the music industry has finally admitted the error of its ways and abandoned the practice of suing illegal file-sharers en masse.

The practice has long been criticized by music fans and artists alike as the RIAA dragnet snared single mothers, poor transplant patient teens, disabled veterans, and even the deceased.

Backing away from the practice, the RIAA now plans to form voluntary partnerships with ISPs whereby it will notify them of IP addresses suspected of making music files available for download and the ISP will then act accordingly, either simply forwarding the warning to the customer, or asking them to stop altogether. Upon repeated warnings then ISP will then presumably begin to throttle connection speeds or disconnect them altogether ala a “three-strikes-and-your-out” plan.

The specific ISPs having these voluntary partnerships with the RIAA isn’t mention by the WSJ or the RIAA, but Cox Communications seems to already have a tentative plan in place under the false guise of the DMCA.

The plan, however, doesn’t mean an end to pending lawsuits, only new ones, and doesn’t count out suing those responsible for large-scale illegal distribution.

RIAA head Mitch Bainwol believes the new strategy will be more effective since it will be able to target more people at the source – Internet connections – and move away from costly litigation.

“Over the course of five years, the marketplace has changed,” he said in an interview. Litigation, he said, was successful in raising the public’s awareness that file-sharing is illegal, but now he wants to try a strategy he thinks could prove more successful.

It seemed only a matter of time really for if you think about it the RIAA’s litigation campaign has been a public relations and financial disaster. It’s spent boatloads of money and raised the ire of both music fans and artists without ever obtaining a single successful conviction of an accused illegal file-sharer in a court of law.

To make matters worse, CD sales continue to slump while Rome burns.

In short, today is a very, very good day for all those in the file-sharing community. The only controversy will be when ISPs begin forwarding letters from the RIAA, but that practice too will eventually come to a halt after people begin losing their connections based on impartial, unsubstantiated “evidence” given to ISPs by unlicensed RIAA private investigators with no oversight or regulation.

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