Today, the Wall Street Journal announced that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is set to abandon its mass lawsuits against individuals. Since 2003, the RIAA has opened legal proceedings against approximately 35,000 people, including a 13-year-old and a dead person.
Instead, they intend to work through Internet Service Providers (ISPs). ISPs will be asked to email customers, asking them to stop sharing music, and threaten them with slower connections and disconnection if they continue. Many ISPs are sadly already in negotiations with major record labels and other entertainment companies.
While this change maybe has obvious positive aspects -- no reasonable person would think children and the deceased should be sued for sharing music -- it smells like just a change of tactics toward the same end. The RIAA was a firm supporter of the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2007, known as the PRO-IP bill. Under the deceptive banner of "intellectual property," the law has several unacceptable provisions, including a disastrously broad power to seize people's property like computers and servers. Earlier versions of the bill tried to pass the buck for the RIAA's lawsuits against citizens to the Department of Justice -- that portion was removed before it passed, but it's not surprising to now see the RIAA trying to get ISPs to do more enforcement for them. Instead of suing people, they want to just confiscate their computers entirely and have their Internet connections cut off, without dirtying their own hands.
All of this is thanks to Senator Leahy, who as a paid puppet for the media industry, sponsored the bill. And remember, it was Mitch Bainwol, the RIAA Chairman & CEO who said, "This bill truly is music to the ears of all those who care about strengthening American creativity and jobs."
- Write to your ISP proactively and say you expect them not to compromise your privacy, security, or ability to communicate by kowtowing to RIAA attempts at intimidation.
- Support non-RIAA artists in your music purchases.
- Our previous PRO-IP posts