RIAA Asks ISPs To Police Music Pirates

RIAA Asks ISPs To Police Music Pirates

Recording Industry Association of America will no longer file lawsuits against people it believes have illegally downloaded music from the Internet, and instead is asking ISPs to snitch on so-called pirates.
The RIAA has taken controversial approaches in going after music pirates, creating a firestorm in pursuing cases such as trying to sue a dead person and a 13-year-old girl, reported The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story Friday.

The RIAA’s legal maneuvers during the past five years, and 35,000 cases later, were ineffective and unconstitutional, according to critics such as The Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“Ending the lawsuit campaign is long overdue,” said Fred von Lohmann, senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The campaign has been, by any measure, a failure. The lawsuits have not reduced unauthorized file-sharing and have not gotten a single artist paid.”

In switching tactics, the organization is seeking cooperation from ISPs: if an Internet user appears to be pirating music, the RIAA will e-mail the ISP, according to the Journal.

Subsequently, the ISP is supposed to forward the notice to an alleged violator or send some type of other warning. However, unlike the past, the pirates’ identity will remain anonymous.

After an initial warning, the RIAA is asking ISPs to enforce a “three-strikes” policy: if music pirates ignore two warning notices, the organization has asked the ISPs to suspend or cut off Internet service, according to the paper.

A less severe consequence may involve throttling, in which an ISP can slow down large file-sharers’ bandwidth.

According to von Lohmann, one in five American Internet users is an active file-sharer.

“Does the recording industry really think that banning 20 percent of Americans from the Internet is the right answer? Do ISPs?” said von Lohmann. “Or will the millions of ISP “warnings” just give rise to more encrypted and anonymized file-sharing mechanisms, all the while getting no [sic] artists paid?”

In an interview with Ars Technica, Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA, told the Web site that the system is not yet in place and that the organization has not decided on a launch date. Sherman declined to comment about any specific ISPs that are involved in the agreement.

Sherman was also asked if there would be any ramifications against ISPs that refuse to sign an agreement with the RIAA.

“That’s an issue we hope not to have to address,” Sherman said. “There’s been a real movement toward ISPs assuming a more proactive role in dealing with online piracy in constructive way that’s sensitive to their subscribers, that’s sensitive to privacy, that’s sensitive to content, and that is frankly responsive to their needs in terms of network congestion and offering good consumer experiences to all their subscribers.”

The RIAA said it has not worked with federal “government backing,” but has been worked on a state-level with New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo over the summer.

Cuomo has tried to intercede between the recording industry and the ISPs, to reach a middle ground, the WSJ reported.

“We wanted to end the litigation,” Steven Cohen, Cuomo’s chief of staff told the paper. “It’s not helpful.”