RIAA changes strategy, stopping lawsuits against students
Issue date: 1/30/09 Section: News
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While the RIAA plans to veer away from mass lawsuits, it will continue to monitor Internet traffic in search of illegal sharing. However, instead of serving individuals with lawsuits, the RIAA says that it will work in conjunction with Internet service providers (ISPs) to combat illegal downloading. The RIAA will ask ISPs to issue warnings to those who continue to illegally download music. If warnings are not enough of a deterrent, ISPs may suspend the individual's Internet account.
Thomas Siu, the chief information security officer at Case Western Reserve University, said that the RIAA's recent announcement means that the "looming threat of no-win lawsuits has been lifted."
"[The RIAA] were suing individual students because they thought it was a large part of the problem, but in reality, students only made up 5 percent of the illegal downloading that was going on," Siu said. Initially, Siu explained, the RIAA produced estimates claiming that students were responsible for around 15 percent of all illegal downloading.
"They were going after the Average Joe and creating a black hole in the market," Siu said of the RIAA's former approach to combating illegal downloading. If a lawsuit were filed against a student, that person would "just have to pay up."
"If you went to court, you would lose," he said.
Though the RIAA is moving away from mass lawsuits, Siu said that the university's approach to illegal sharing will remain unchanged.
"When you register a computer on our network, you agree to the Acceptable Use Policy," he said, "If you're trading copyrighted material, then we need to follow the law."