The Recording Industry Association of America has signalled its intention to switch tactics in the battle against piracy.
It stopped filing mass lawsuits early this fall and will now attempt to cooperate with ISPs on tackling users who are uploading music, according to the Wall Street Journal, rather than suing individuals it believes are actively using peer-to-peer services.
The RIAA has launched legal proceedings against about 35,000 people since 2003, according to the paper. The lawsuits created bad publicity for the RIAA, especially when children or the deceased were erroneously contacted. However, the RIAA counters critics’ arguments by saying that piracy would have been worse without the legal actions.
According to the WSJ, the trade group has preliminary agreements with major ISPs, under which it will send an email to the provider when it discovers any of their customers making music available online illegally for others.
The approach is similar to the U.K., where six ISPs signed a memorandum of understanding in June with record labels trade body the BPI and the Motion Picture Association of America. The agreement was brokered by the U.K. government.
Under the RIAA scheme, the ISP will either forward the email to customers or alert its customers that they appear to be uploading music illegally. After one or two more emails, alongside perhaps introducing a slower broadband service, the ISP may cut off the offender’s access altogether.
The WSJ reports that the RIAA said it has agreements in principle with some ISPs, but it declined to say which ones. The new strategy also removes one of the most contentious elements of the lawsuit strategy, which required ISPs to reveal the identities of file-sharers. The RIAA would now simply forward its emails to the ISPs.
New York State attorney general Andrew Cuomo began brokering an agreement between the recording industry and the ISPs over the summer. “We wanted to end the litigation,” Steven Cohen, Cuomo’s chief of staff, told the WSJ. “It’s not helpful.”