Home Pirates Rejoice: RIAA Drops Lawsuits, Makes Deal with ISPs

Pirates Rejoice: RIAA Drops Lawsuits, Makes Deal with ISPs

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal this morning, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has finally realized the folly of its anti-piracy strategy and decided to abandon its mass lawsuits against those who share files over P2P networks. This strategy will now be replaces by a three-strikes rule, where ISPs will be notified of infringements by the RIAA. A number of ISPs have agreed to “reduce the service” of these file sharers if they continue to distribute files after receiving a first warning. After a third or fourth warning, the Internet service might be cut off completely. It is not clear which specific ISPs have entered into this arrangement with the RIAA.

One good aspect of this deal is that the ISPs will not have to report the identity of the alleged copyright infringers to the RIAA. This doesn’t mean that the RIAA is planning to completely stop its lawsuits, however. According a report by CNET, the RIAA will still sue those who download “5,000 or 6,000 songs a month” (of course, it is important to point out that nobody has ever been sued for downloading files, only for sharing them).

This arrangement was brokered by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and, at its core, resembles the RIAA’s deal with a number of colleges.

It’s Not that Easy

We are happy to see the flood of lawsuits against file sharers come to an end, but we also think that there are some problems with this plan, which, of course, is mostly geared towards allowing the RIAA to save on legal fees while being able to reach far more people by simply sending an email to an ISP.

More importantly, however, we agree with Cindy Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who argues that this will mean that people won’t be able to access the Internet “based on allegations of breaking a law that have not been evaluated in a court of law.”

It is still a bit hard to flully evaluate this deal without knowing the exact details and which ISPs actually agreed to this, but, as most people could have told them a long time ago, the RIAA has clearly decided that its current approach wasn’t working, as overall music sales have continued to decline, while file sharing has only increased.

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