Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead: RIAA Stops Mass Copyright Infringement Lawsuits
After vowing to plod on suing 12 year-old girls on welfare, dead people, cancer patients and college students, the Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA) has decided to cease its idiotic legal campaign against Peer-To-Peer (P2P) file traders. The trade group, who faced a public relations nightmare from the very start of its aggressive legal strategy, has finally seen the light and will instead direct its efforts to “playing P2P Wack-A-Mole” (trying to kill off the latest Peer-To-Peer software and destinations) and lobbying lawmakers for an ISP tax.
Although the RIAA contends that the legal proceedings stemmed the tide of online file sharing, the reality is that more and more individuals are illegally obtaining copyrighted works throughout the world, and nothing the RIAA achieved made a difference. The announcement is a complete 180 degree about-face for the trade group. Many industry watchers came to the realization that the 20,000 to 30,000 legal proceedings became merely a new revenue stream for the industry since the average settlement for infringement was in the $3000 range. However, that may not be the case with the RIAA shuttering the entire endeavor.
The RIAA now plans to focus its attention on a “three-strike” plan its developing with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) based on a new strategy that is gaining traction in Europe. The trade group revealed that it has obtained preliminary agreements with several ISPs under which it will notify the provider when it uncovers a user performing illegal file-sharing. Based on the “three-strike” rule, the ISP will then ask the offender to cease their file-sharing activities. It will give them three chances, before cutting off their Internet service.
The RIAA declined to name the participating ISPs in the United States. FutureMusic believes that only one or two agreements have been cemented and that several ISPs have informed the RIAA that they are not willing to participate. The reason is that American ISPs don’t want to be in the business of policing their networks for illegal activity. Legally, it’s a slippery slope, and the ISPs don’t want to be in the Cop business.
As far as other initiatives, the RIAA is pursuing “blanket licenses” for colleges that would add $10-20 in “activity fees” to a student’s tuition. Some colleges have resisted this concept, but it certainly makes a lot of sense, and is relatively painless.
Speaking on a panel at the Copyright Society in New York, FutureMusic’s Dan Brotman revealed the obvious, “the reality is that there is very little that can be done to stop online file sharing. Once you take digitized content and place it on a network, it becomes free. It doesn’t matter how many 12 year-olds you sue, or how many new laws are created, it’s not going to stop. Once the industry comes to that realization, creative solutions will emerge.”
So what’s the solution? Brotman contends the only solution is going to be “a monetary mechanism that end-users don’t feel.”
“The best idea is an ISP tax, similar to the compulsory licensing concept that is placed on blank media…most end-users wouldn’t even notice the additional fees since they barely flinch at the exorbitant taxes and regulatory fees added to their cell phone bills every month. The government would collect the money and deliver it directly to the copyright holders. Unlike the RIAA, which is now involved in legal battles with bands who have yet to get their piece of the pie from successful copyright infringement lawsuits,” Brotman stated.
The RIAA’s new strategy eliminates one of the problematic aspects of their initial initiative, which involved filing lawsuits against ISPs and colleges to reveal the identities of file sharers. Now the RIAA would simply notify the ISPs with their “evidence” and let the ISP then pursue the matter.
However, the RIAA did state that it will not drop ongoing lawsuits and will still track down “heavy file-sharers.”
The Future: Too late. The RIAA has not only ruined their reputation with consumers, but then have also lost the majority of bands and artists who understand that the trade group is not pursuing their interests. Game Over.