Just my Thoughts

The RIAA and Music Downloading

We’ve all seen the headlines – college student sued by recording industry due to illegal downloading, grandmother sued by recording industry after grandson visits, recording industry sues dead person for file sharing.  If you are a parent and are diligent, you have asked questions like how did you get so many songs on iTunes, what are you doing that is slowing down my connection now or something similar. 

The RIAA – Recording Industry Association of America – has decided it is time to change its tactics.  After all, what trade industry wants to be accused of deleting a senior citizen’s bank account so she cannot afford the medication she needs to live or accused of bankrupting a single mother as she tries to defend her child for something she isn’t even sure her child did.  When they say any publicity is good publicity, they did not mean when it is always bad publicity – unless, of course, you are a politician.

The RIAA has made arrangements with several undisclosed ISPs (internet service providers).  Instead of suing, the ISP will send a form letter to the offending user.  You have to realize – as do both the RIAA and the ISP – that this still does not often get to the end user who may be the offender.  Not sure about at your house, but here at mine the ISP bill comes to me.  If I were to receive such a letter, I can guarantee it is not me doing the illegal activity.

The form letter, which CNET has a copy of, will be emailed from the ISP but is signed or from the RIAA.  The bigger question is just what will happen after the email is sent asking you to basically cease the activity.  Some figure this is a wonderful way for ISPs to root out large bandwidth users and either charge them extra for the bandwidth use – possibly with some of that going to the RIAA but who knows as the agreements are secret.  Some ISPs are already playing with a tiered service schedule to help get additional monies from large bandwidth users.  I suppose another possibility is a lawsuit if the activity does not end.  ISPs could cut service if the activity continues.

Without the RIAA and ISP agreement being disclosed, there is no way to know exactly what the end enforcement will be.  Believe it or not, from my cursory reading of the letter on CNET, there is no mention of what will happen if you do not stop.  Generally, especially in legal situations, a veiled statement of the next step is used to get the desired reaction.  Ben Patterson, in his blog The Gadget Hound, suggests that maybe you will just receive a bill from your ISP for the downloaded or shared files.  That would most likely get your attention.

Anyway you look at it, copyright laws need to be protected.

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