RIAA Pressuring ISPs to Pursue Suspected File-Sharers
I found this story via boingboing. The operative phrase in this story is "without having to resort to the legal system". The Recording Industry Association of America seems to be getting more and more desperate.
Personally, I was unaware that my Internet Service Provider was also meant to act as a collections agency.
The RIAA is asking for additional cooperation from ISPs in getting customers targeted by the RIAA's file-sharing sting to cooperate, according to a letter recently leaked to P2P attorney Ray Beckerman. In it, the RIAA lays out its vision for how it would like ISPs to cooperate with its efforts to identify and sue those accused of sharing music over P2P networks. This includes communicating a standing offer of a $1,000 settlement discount should the subscriber settle before a lawsuit is filed against him or her. The letter also discloses plans for a settlement web site that will launch later this year.
MediaSentry, the RIAA's investigative arm, typically identifies suspected copyright infringers by IP address. One of the record labels whose music was discovered in a shared folder then becomes the lead plaintiff in a John Doe lawsuit. Via the discovery process, the ISP is then forced to turn over the name and address of the account owner who was using the IP address at the time of the alleged infringement. At that point, the John Doe case is discontinued and the label sues the individual fingered by the ISP.
Bypassing the courts
The RIAA wants to do an end run around this process, getting ISPs to start the collection agency work by sending out letters to the owners of IP addresses allegedly used for infringement. If the recipient of a such a letter contacts the RIAA, the labels get their positive ID and the chance to extract a sizable settlement without having to resort to the legal system.