Music Industry Drops Lawsuits

The Recording Industry Association of America has revealed its new strategy in fighting against the downloading of copyrighted music by working with internet service providers to sever abusers’ net connections. The decision to scrap the legal attack was first reported in The Wall Street Journal.

In an interview Friday morning, Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), said many of the details have yet to be hammered out. The music industry, he said, which also announced that it would no longer pursue a “broad-based legal strategy against individuals for file sharing,” has drawn up a new anti-piracy plan whereby the RIAA would notify participating ISPs when it discovers their customers engaging in what it claims are illegal downloading activities.

Nevertheless while the RIAA will reportedly not file any new mass batches of lawsuits, it does intend to pursue the ones it still has pending, and reserves the right to file suit against egregious offenders.

The recording industry has lobbied for similar three-strike legislation in Europe, but the European Union has so far rejected the notion of banning file-swappers from the Internet as too severe — while France alone has sided with the record labels and moved to enact such a proposal.

Throughout their attempt to keep the number of illegal file-sharers in check while the legal market for digital music took off, with two weeks left in the year, legitimate sales of digital music tracks soared for the first time past the 1 billion mark, up 28 percent over all of last year, according to Nielsen Soundscan.

“We’re at a point where there’s a sense of comfort that we can replace one form of deterrent with another form of deterrent,” said RIAA Chairman and Chief Executive Mitch Bainwol. “Filing lawsuits as a strategy to deal with a big problem was not our first choice five years ago.”

Notices seem to be a better solution when it comes to banning, warning or preventing this kind of irregularity. In other words, under the new plan, the RIAA will send notices to ISPs that identify the IP addresses of suspected file sharers. ISPs will then send warnings to their customers and then cut them off if the users fail to curb their illegal downloads. Details are still being worked out, but most reports said downloaders might lose their net connection after the third notice. The termination could last anywhere from three months to a year.

It’s not yet clear which ISPs have been negotiating with the RIAA, but policing the network and sending notices to subscribers regarding misuse has never been top on the agenda of most. There have been instances, however, where certain ISPs have voluntarily helped content providers keep copyrighted content from being illegally distributed on their networks.

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