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Recording Industry Moves Away From Lawsuits, Enlists ISPs In Piracy Fight

imageAfter years of engaging in a largely futile campaign of lawsuits against illegal file-sharers, the Recording Industry Association of America is giving up that tactic. Instead, the RIAA hopes to enlist the help of broadband ISPs to stop music pirates from giving away copyrighted material, WSJ reported. The record label organ has crafted initial agreements with the major internet providers, though the companies weren’t specifically identified. The first step would involve alerting ISPs that one or more of their users is uploading unauthorized tracks.

Three strikes: After that, the ISP would either send the RIIA’s warning to its offending users or directly ask them to stop. If the user ignores the warning, they could receive one or two more alerts telling them to cease their illegal activity. At that point, the provider could slow down accused pirates’ broadband speeds. And if that still doesn’t work, users might have their internet service shut off completely. The RIIA’s move closely resembles the action taken up by France’s parliament last month. The proposed “three strikes” rule has sparked a battle between France and European Union parliamentarians, who have voted to force ISPs to seek a court order before disconnecting a user’s internet service over alleged music piracy.

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Separately, the British recording industry has also adopted the more gentle approach of collaborating with ISPs to issue warnings to users caught aiding and abetting illegal music downloading. In July, the BPI – after two years of hammering away – signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Britain’s six largest ISPs, who agreed to work with the British music trade group to try to stop illegal downloads, including sending out written warnings to customers caught pirating content.

The lawsuit card remains: The RIAA will still maintain the right to use lawsuits against particularly egregious music pirates, though the use of legal action is expected to diminish. The group also defends its litigiousness ways, saying the situation would be worse if it hadn’t taken individuals to court. As evidence, the RIAA pointed research from market consultancy NPD Group which said the percentage of web users who download music has remained fairly constant at roughly 19 percent the past several years. Still, the volume of file-sharing has grown over the same period as well. In the meantime, Nielsen SoundScan said over a billion digital full tracks have been sold in 2008, up 28 percent over last year, BillboardBiz reported.

Photo Credit: jsmjr