Monday, December 22, 2008

Will new threats stop music file sharing?

The Recording Industry Association of America, affectionately known as RIAA announced over the weekend that they've given up useless lawsuits against kids and dead people who ignored copyright laws to share music on peer-to-peer networks. Instead they'll work with cooperative ISPs to send offenders email notification to knock it off.

It's true that the recording industry sales continue to drop dramatically each year. So you can't blame them for trying to gain control. But trying to stop file sharing is like oh, I don't know...wishing for world peace, or spinning straw into gold. I'm not exactly sure how the old approach worked, but it was probably bordering on an invasion of privacy rights since RIAA had to get the names and contact info of violators through the ISP. No matter how they tried to justify it was just plan ugly. The new gentler approach doesn't release your personal data. Instead the ISP sends you an email on behalf of RIAA with a warning that your service could either be significantly slowed or turned off. They've developed a series of email notices, each one becomes stronger. The focus is on those who upload large quantities.

But if lawsuits didn't scare anyone before will this new strategy be looked at as another meek threat? How many chances will you get before they take action? Or could this turn into increased ISP rates or fines or (gasp!) maybe your monthly service bill includes items charges for music?

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